Knowing Your Options: Is Homebirth For You?
One hundred years ago, almost all of the births in the United States occurred at home. Today, less than 1% of pregnant people in this country have homebirths. Many people assume that having their babies at home is less safe than having their babies in the hospital. However, we know from recent data that for normal, healthy pregnant people, birthing at home with a licensed midwife is as safe or safer than birthing in the hospital. Not only is homebirth just as safe from a medical perspective- it also comes with substantially lower rates of intervention. Here are some statistics and facts comparing homebirth and hospital birth:
C-section rates for homebirth parents are 5.2%, compared to 32.2% in hospitals.
Babies born at home receive all of their needed blood due to delayed cord clamping, a practice which is not routinely performed in the hospitals.
Homebirth parents report high rates of satisfaction from their care, while in the hospital, 25-34% of birthing parents report experiencing birth trauma.
In the hospital, one in eight birthing parents experiences postpartum depression; the proportion decreases exponentially at home.
For babies, immediate and constant skin-to-skin contact and a calm environment help them transition into this world with a more relaxed nervous system and, potentially, an unbroken sense of trust in their connection with their birth parent.
Because hospital providers maintain so many patients at the same time, they are unable to treat each of their patients as free-thinking individuals and have to resort to hospital protocol when managing your care. This often results in pregnant and birthing people feeling unconsidered in what their needs and desires are for their birth experiences. For many people, hiring a midwife gives them the opportunity to work with a health care provider who truly knows them and what they want for their birth.
Homebirths in the United States are on the rise, and more and more people from many different backgrounds are choosing out of hospital birth. I encourage all pregnant people to thoroughly explore their options when considering where and how to receive prenatal care and give birth.
For many people, their home is their sanctuary. It’s the place where they feel safest and most relaxed. Labor occurs normally when the birthing person is without the stress hormones that interfere with the physiological process of birth. Therefore, it makes sense that labor will flow most smoothly when the pregnant person is in the place where they feel safest and most supported.
About the Author: Marea Goodman, LM, CPM
Marea Goodman LM, CPM is deeply passionate about midwifery care. She is a direct entry midwife, licensed by the California Medical Board, with a Bachelor’s degree from UC Berkeley. Marea is certified in neonatal resuscitation and CPR for adults and infants. She has been attending births since 2011 and has experience working in both home and birth center settings.