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Labor of Love: Home Birth is a Choice that the AMA Wants to Outlaw

Editor’s note: This guest post comes to us from Amy Gates.  Amy writes about attachment parenting, activism, green living and photography at Crunchy Domestic Goddess.  Earlier in the week, she shared Julian’s birth story.


Whether or not you’ve had a home birth or would choose one for yourself in the future, I think most women would agree that they should have the right to choose where they give birth. Just as every woman is unique, every baby is unique and every birth experience is unique. What works best for one woman will not work best for the next. Some women feel the most comfortable giving birth in a hospital with an OB. Some feel comfortable birthing with a family practitioner or midwife in a birthing center. Others feel comfortable birthing with a midwife at home. All of these are options are safe choices, so why is the American Medical Association (AMA) trying to outlaw home birth?

Are they scared that Ricki Lake is raising awareness that women have options with her movie The Business of Being Born? They specifically cite Ricki’s and other celebrities’ home births in the media. “There has been much attention in the media by celebrities having home deliveries, with recent Today Show headings such as ‘Ricki Lake takes on baby birthing industry: Actress and former talk show host shares her at-home delivery in new film.'” Ricki responds to the AMA here, and, over on the Huffington Post, Ricki, Abby Epstein and Jennifer Block have posted Docs to Women: Pay No Attention to Ricki Lake’s Home Birth. Are they scared that women might question the establishment and demand better care for themselves and their babies? Are they scared that they might (gasp) lose money? Are they scared that women might take back birth?

I’ve done a lot of research over the past few years regarding home birth and, of course, came to the conclusion that it was a good choice for me and my family. I’ve also written extensively about my research regarding home birth and my own home birth story as well. I would never say that it is the right choice for every woman, but it do believe it’s a woman’s right to know what her options are, do her research and decide what is best for her and her baby. I do not believe it is the AMA’s right or the ACOG’s (American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists) right to tell a woman where she has to give birth. As Steff Hedenkamp from The Big Push for Midwives states, “a law dictating where a woman must give birth would be a clear violation of fundamental rights to privacy and other freedoms currently protected by the U.S. Constitution.”

So what now? What can we as women, or men who support women’s right to choose, do? You can sign the Keep Home Birth Legal petition and I also encourage you to spread the word about this. Feel free to grab the button (which links back to this post) and put it in your sidebar or blog about this on your own blog. Get the word out there that the AMA is trying to take away our rights. Home birth is a choice. Let’s keep it that way.

I’ve been trying to get post the code for the ‘Home birth is a choice’ button, but to no avail. If you’d like to add the button to your sidebar please email me – amygeekgrl AT gmail DOT com – and I’ll send it to you directly. Thank you!


  1. This has been an issue here in Missouri… the traditional medical establishment is fighting against new laws allowing midwives to practice: http://tinyurl.com/6n5u3p

  2. Sarah Supernova says:

    The AMA needs to step aside. Seriously. This is absolutely out of hand. Women must be empowered to trust their choices and their bodies. Hospitals are full of fear, stress and infection — I would not choose to have my baby there.

    Making home birth illegal would bring about a whole new round of outlaws. What are they gonna do, put a new mother and her tiny baby in jail?

  3. Consider, for a moment, that the physicians of the AMA are not corrupt money-grubbers trying to protect the profits of obstetricians. Maybe, just maybe, these physicians are trying to save women and children from this Luddite fantasy that the “good” old days of a century ago – when childbirth was the most dangerous time point in a woman’s life – are something we should aspire to recreate.

    I think the folks posting here should travel to a Third World country where home birth is the norm – and where people are clamoring for decent hospitals and trained obstetricians to save them from the horror of dead babies and dead mothers. Maybe that would wake some of you up to how “good” the good old days really were.

    That wouldn’t happen in this country, you say. We have good sanitation, trained midwives and yada, yada, yada, excuses, excuses. Situations arise that cannot be predicted beforehand. Cord prolapse, abruption, meconium aspiration, an undetected congenital malformation … there is a long list of potential catastrophes where life or death can be decided in a matter of minutes. These events are manageable in a hospital setting, but deadly at home.

    I’ve personally seen a baby that developed Group B strep meningitis after a home birth. The baby’s illness wasn’t recognized until he started seizing. The mother had risk factors that, in a hospital, would have resulted in her being treated with antibiotics during labor, almost certainly preventing this child’s infection. Instead that child is now deaf, epileptic and has significant developmental delays secondary to the meningitis. Preventable … entirely preventable.

    This trend toward increasing home birth is INSANITY, and the AMA is absolutely right to advocate for tight regulation of this practice.

    Why don’t you work to get hospitals to reform their practices and facilities to make them more mother and baby-friendly? That would be far more constructive than advocating for Russian roulette with the lives of women and children.

  4. Alright, I am not one for “home birth” but a GREAT midwife very close to their doctor’s or a hospital would be perfect in the situations that something does go wrong! god forbid it does…. But it happens a little more then 50% of the time.. I am a soon to be mother, and I am choosing to take the midwife step just because the hospitals are so impersonal and very stressful on both mother and baby.. But my midwife is also located a BLOCK away from her doctor which is located in the hospital. So no the home birth choice isn’t exactly the correct step to take if you want the all natural birth. But just think about this, what if you start hemorrhaging and the home birth midwife doesn’t catch it in time because she doesn’t have the necessary equipment to catch it in time… not everyone bleeds out.. And with a birthing center, you have the medical equipment to catch things before they go wrong… So just think about yourself and your baby, which option is actually safer?


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