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Many of our parents and grandparents were born at home with the use of midwives and what we now call doulas, who provide emotional support to pregnant women and can assist with some physical/homeopathic needs and education regarding pregnancy and the birth process. Doulas back then were not certified or professionally trained – rather they used their years of experience to assist others. They are growing in numbers again, as is the use of midwives.
Having a home birth is generally far less expensive that a hospital birth for the millions of Americans with no insurance, and with the numbers of those infected with hospital-associated bacteria like MRSA and staph hitting 1.7 million, including over 100,000 deaths, it's an option many women consider and often choose. Parents-to-be worry that these infections will cause serious injury to themselves or their newborns.
Numbers of home births have increased by 20 percent from 1990, with the main demographical change being in white women, who have increased their home births by 94 percent. Certain women are not good candidates for home births-- such as those with heath issues, very over-weight women, or older mothers--but most home births are carried out safely and with the mothers feeling more in control of their own birthing experience than those facing hospital procedures and a plethora of strange faces. Women having home births should have a back up plan in place, in case of emergency.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has warned, however, that home birth risks in America are over double those of hospital births.
For more information, check out the journal Birth: Issues in Perinatal Care.
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