What may be a normal birthing experience in many countries, remains abnormal in the United States. Yet, home births without a doctor or midwife present have risen by 79 percent in recent years. In 2007, 5,000 unsupervised home births were documented, and the number increased to 8,800 documented in 2012. (1)
New study reports that birth certificates show a new rise in home births within the United States.
In the new study from Weill Cornell Medical College, researchers utilized birth certificates from the database of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The researchers defined unsupervised home birth as those not attended by physician, midwife, or other doctor. (1)
From 2007-2012, more than 24 million births occurred within the United States. Out of those 24 million, 141,000 were born in the home. Thirty percent of those home births were unsupervised. The study found that the increase in unsupervised home births was higher in women who had already had the childbirth experience. Eighty-two percent of unsupervised home birth mothers had already had children compared to 65 percent of first time moms. (1)
“The study is incomplete in that it doesn’t answer why there was an increase in unattended birth,” said Dr. Paul Burcher, an associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology and bioethics at Albany Medical College in Albany, N.Y. Burcher felt that it could be associated with the “free birth” movement. (1)
The study acknowledges that some of these unassisted home births could have happened in states that do not allow for midwife assisted home births, therefore the birth certificates were only signed by the parents. (1)
Burcher adds, “You can’t capture what’s going on with home births with birth-certificate data, because some unsupervised births may not have been planned. For instance, a baby may have arrived too fast for the mother to get to the hospital.” (1)
Physicians that participated in the study remained resistant to home births, and remind women that if you choose a home birth that you should be healthy, not carrying twins or other multiples. (1)
Britain now recommends women utilize home birth midwives or birth centers for low risk pregnancies.
Yet in Britain, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence recommends home births and birth centers for healthy mothers and babies. Their guidelines state that 45 percent of mothers are extremely low risk and would be better giving birth at home or a birth center rather than a hospital. (2)
Cathy Warwick, chief executive of the Royal College of Midwives, told the BBC News website that she welcomed the guidelines – as do the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Warwick reported, “The evidence shows that if women don’t have any complications in their pregnancies, they’ll have better outcomes if they are able to make these choices.” When speaking of choices, Warwick is referring to fewer interventions and a comfortable environment often associated with home births or birthing centers. (2)
Sarah Bregel shares how her homebirth experience differed from her hospital birth experience.
In April 2015, the Washington Post shared a birth story of author and mother, Sarah Bregel, who had experienced both home birth and hospital birth. She states, “My first birth was dismal. It was the most excruciating pain of my life. But it was the way I was treated during the experience that will forever stick with me. There was nothing out of the ordinary about this birth, I would later come to learn. Though I’d been advised that my feelings about my birth would be a priority, as soon as I walked through the hospital doors, I felt that wasn’t the case. How I wanted to give birth didn’t seem to matter to the nursing staff or to the on-call doctor. Following hospital procedure, no matter what, seemed everyone’s number one priority.” (3)
In contrast, she describes her home birth as “ideal, supported, and empowering.” Bregel continues, “While the most common reactions to having a home birth are either that it is very stupid or very brave, I’m here to tell you that for me (and many others) it’s neither. Home birth is a safe option for many women.” (3)
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