At Home Births Increase, but Not Without Risks

Many of us have heard about the risks of at home births, yet, according to a new report, the number of at home births is on the rise. Between the years of 2004 and 2008, planned home births increased by 20%. Out of all of the states, Montana currently has the highest number of women giving birth at home rather than in a traditional hospital setting.

Other states that are high on the list of home births include Oregon and Vermont, while Delaware, Louisiana, and Mississippi report the lowest numbers of at home births.

Obstetricians especially are concerned about this rising rate and feel that people are not informed enough in regards to the risks involved with giving birth at home. In January 2011, a statement was issued from The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, which highlighted the risks involved with home births including that such births increase the risk of infant mortality by up to 3 times when directly compared to births that occur in a hospital setting.

For women that are considered to be ‘Ëœlow risk’, experts note that even though the absolute risk of serious complications is low for some women, it is based on medical evidence published about hospital births and therefore does not pertain to births in the home.

Professionals highly advise women planning to give birth at home to take proper steps in learning the proper prenatal care involved in screening for and treating Group B Strep, along with screening for genetic factors and HIV. They also encourage women to seriously consider the health and safety risks behind home births and strongly advise these women to have a backup plan in place which can allow them to get to a hospital as soon as possible if necessary.

Some states in our country have actually had close to a 50% jump in the number of home births occur. Lead author of this research states that this increase in home births should grab the attention of policymakers and practitioners alike since the number had declined in the previous years between 1990 and 2004.

This study proved that this increase in home births involves mainly white women. Based on the results of the research, the author suggests that the home births that involve other ethnicities may be either emergency situations or unplanned births based upon information that proved some deliveries were assisted by physicians or other professionals and not midwives.

Compared to earlier years, the number of complications that occur including both low birth weight and premature births has actually decreased; however, the number of home births is still on the rise. Virginia, Indiana, North Carolina, and Maryland have experienced a 50% rise in home births between the years of 2004 through 2008, while at the same time, Nevada, Vermont, and Arkansas reported the greatest decrease in numbers.


Birth Issues In Perinatal Care: DOI: 10.1111/j. 1523-536X. 2010.00444. x

Trends and Characteristics of Home Births in the United States by Race and Ethnicity, 1990-2006. Marian F. MacDorman PhD., Eugene Declercq PhD, Fay Menacker PhD.

Blanchard, K. RN. More Women Having Babies at Home, but are There Risks? 2011.