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More Women Choosing Home Births

By HERWriter Guide
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Labor & Delivery related image Photo: Getty Images

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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EmpowHER Guest

The key point here is this: "The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has warned, however, that home birth risks in America are over double those of hospital births." More women died in childbirth, sometimes along with the newborn, in days before hospital births made birthing safe. I know of two families where, unfortunately, and tragically, something did go wrong, and the baby was a stillborn; in another the baby was born alive, but with no higher functioning due to a difficult birth. The baby died "a vegetable" a year later. These were cases where, if in a hospital, these senseless deaths would not have happened. I respect each woman's right to her opinion and choice, however, when talking about the fragile life of a newborn, and that of a woman in one of the most intense physical changes humans experience I would hope decisions will be made very carefully, and with full back up plans. The alternative to the home birth ideal is a potential family tragedy that you may live with forever.

May 24, 2011 - 5:25pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Anonymous)

First I would like to clarify that I am NOT against hospital births, I think that they can be very life saving for high risk pregnancies, and in case of emergencies, and for those who just choose to do so. BUT, that doesn't mean if a woman who doesn't fit into those categories needs to have her baby in a hospital. We hear about the occasional unfortunate (I stress unfortunate, because any loss is sad) tragedies that may happen during a home birth and mark ALL home births as dangerous, but we don't hear or even mark hospital births as dangerous when those same deaths happen in a hospital. The infant mortality rate is still very high for such a developed country as the US, in comparison to other countries who may be "under-developed". There are many developed countries where home birth are a completely normal event, and hospitals are for emergencies.
If you read the studies that ACOG (The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists) have published on the dangers of home births you will see that they lump EVERY birth that takes place outside of a hospital as a home birth. Meaning, those births that happen at home by accident (because baby came too quickly), babies born on route to the hospital (in cars or on the side of the road) etc.(you get the picture) This is entirely different than planned home births in a safe environment, with a trained professional, and even a hospital as a back-up. I just wanted to clarify that.
The sad fact is birth is a huge money making industry in this country. Hospitals can bill more for every intervention a woman has, and sadly there are doctors with years of experience who have never had patients have a "natural" birth. There are some serious holes in our maternal care system, and I'm not saying hospital or home births are going to fix that, but I think we need to work hard to TRULY put mother and baby care first, and not see every birth as a crisis that needs technology to fix it. I hope this added a little more insight...

May 26, 2011 - 6:12pm
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