AP reports that home births are on the rise by a dramatic 20 percent, from 2004 to 2008, accounting for 28,357 of 4.2 million U.S. births. And lest you think it is only the tree-huggers or families who are uninsured and can’t afford a hospital birth, think again.
Sherry Hopkins, a Las Vegas midwife, has attended the home births of many well-educated, affluent, informed women, including a pediatrician, an emergency room doctor and nurses. Home births are the new “it” thing to do.
“I do think there’s a backlash against what’s happening in hospitals,” said Gina Crosley-Corcoran, a Chicago blogger and pre-law student, who gave birth to her third baby (a V-bac) at home. “Women are finding that the hospital experience wasn’t a good one.”
The hospital birth experience does seem to be becoming increasingly invasive and drug-dependent. There are relatively minor inconveniences such as being poked by needles, fetal-monitoring, and being told what position to labor in. Then there are bigger concerns such as cord-clamping, inducement, soaring C-section rates, and brachial plexus injuries. And then there is the matter of comfort: birthing mothers want to feel at ease in their own surroundings, going at their own pace, without interference from doctors who want to speed things up so they won’t miss dinner.
Dr. Joel Evans, a board-certified OB-GYN who supports home birth, calls the medical establishment “resistant to change, resistant to dialogue, resistant to flexibility.” For many women, hospital births have become a stressful, medicalized experience where every birthing woman is treated under the same protocols.
Home births are not for everyone, especially those who are high-risk. Emergencies do happen, so it is important to be close to a hospital in case you need to be rushed there. An informed decision, careful examination of the pros and cons, together with expert advice, is always the way to go.
Robbie Davis-Floyd, a medical anthropologist at the University of Texas at Austin and researcher on global trends in childbirth, says: “Women who are truly educated in evidence-based maternity care understand the safety and the multiple benefits of home birth.”
If you have had a home-birth of are thinking of having one, we’d like to hear about it! Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.