Citing concerns about high rates of Cesarean sections and other medical interventions, the impersonal nature of hospitals, and negative past experiences in hospitals, the number of women who are choosing to birth their babies at home rose twenty percent between 2004 and 2008, according to a report released in May by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In 2008, just over 28,000 home births took place at home, which still only accounts for less than one percent of total US births. But the rise in numbers over recent years is unmistakable.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, which certifies OB-GYNs, warns that home births can be unsafe, especially if the mother has high-risk conditions, if a birth attendant is inadequately trained and if there's no nearby hospital in case of emergency. Some doctors also question whether a "feminist machoism" is at play in wanting to give birth at home.
But home birthers say they want to be free of drugs, fetal monitors, IVs and pressure to hurry their labor at the behest of doctors and hospitals. They prefer to labor in tubs of water or on hands and knees, walk around their living rooms or take comfort in their own beds, surrounded by loved ones as they listen to music or hypnosis recordings with the support of midwives and doulas. Some even go without midwives and rely on husbands or other non-professionals for support.
A 2005 study found that 88 percent of home births in the US and Canada had positive outcomes, while 12 percent of women were transferred to hospitals--9 percent for preventative reasons, 3 percent for emergencies. That study also showed the infant mortality rate was 2 out of every 1,000 births, about the same as hospitals.
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