According to a new study by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the rate of home births has increased across the United States, especially amongst caucasian women. By examining birth certificates, the CDC found an increase of 20% of both planned and unplanned births at home between 2004-2008.
“More women are choosing to give birth from the comfort of their own home. The CDC researched birth certificates for more than 4 million babies. They found that more than 28,000 babies were born at home in 2008. That’s a jump of 20 percent — the highest since 1990.”(Health Key)
Medscape further reports:
According to the researchers, from 1989 to 2004, the percentage of home births remained lower than 1 in every 140 births, declining slowly from 0.69 of all births in 1989 to 0.56 in 2004. However, in 2005, the US rate of home births increased notably for the first time since 1989, to 0.59%, a figure that remained steady in 2006…
According to the researchers, among non-Hispanic white women, for whom greater than 1% of births occur at home, the increase was 28%, which may have driven the overall increase.
Furthermore, the risk profile for home births has been lowered: The percentage of home births of infants who are born preterm or at low birthweight has decreased substantially, as has the percentage of home births that occur to teen and unmarried mothers…
The investigators also found that the percentage of home births delivered by certified nurse-midwives or certified midwives increased by 22%: from 15.8% of home births in 2004 to 19.2% of home births in 2008. By contrast, the percentage of home births delivered by physicians dropped from 8.7% in 2004 to 5.4% in 2008, a decline of 38%.
“The decline in the percentage of home births delivered by physicians may be an indication of an improved risk profile, as most physician-delivered home births are unplanned,” the authors note.
Both of my children were born at home. Our midwives, who were certified, asked that we report these births as “accidental” home births when applying for birth certificates. Even though many states certify midwives, there are still grey areas, especially considering midwives don’t carry malpractice insurance. Thus, I do not think the CDC report can accurately assess planned versus unplanned home births given my own little lie to the county.
I suspect the states with the greatest number of home births (Montana, Vermont, Oregon, Alaska, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin) result from laws that protect midwifery and offer licensure producing a greater number of home birth midwives, however, the Midwives Alliance of North America (MANA) legal chart does not entirely support my supposition. For example, direct entry midwifery is illegal in Pennsylvania, yet they are one of the top states. Despite legal concerns, families and midwives are willing to take this risk.