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Home Births vs. Hospital Births

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The New York Times had an interesting story this week about the increasing number of homebirths.

Home births have been around as long as humans, but since the 1950s, the overwhelming majority of American women have chosen to give birth in hospitals, which the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists identifies as one of the safest places for the unpredictable and sometimes dangerous process of childbirth. (The group has officially opposed home births since 1975, and this year the American Medical Association adopted a similar position.)
Recently, though, midwives and childbirth educators say, a growing number of women have been opting instead for the more intimate and familiar surroundings of home — even in New York City, where homes are typically cramped warrens of a few hundred square feet and neighbors often live close enough to hear every sneeze and footstep.
Births in New York’s hospitals, where pediatricians are able to check babies immediately for potentially dangerous conditions, it should be noted, still vastly outnumber those in its homes — in 2006 home births accounted for only one-half of 1 percent of the city’s 125,506 reported births.
But local midwives say they have been swamped with calls and requests in recent months, in some cases increasing their workload from two, three or four deliveries a month to as many as 10. (New York health department statistics for this year will not be available until 2010.) Several certified nurse midwives who have home-birth-only practices said they had gotten so many more requests in recent months that they have begun referring pregnant women to midwives in Rockland County, Long Island and New Jersey.

The article attributes the increase, in part, to a documentary Ricki Lake made about giving birth at home.
This fall, while speaking at some conferences, I had the chance to watch two other documentaries that cover the same topic: Orgasmic Birth, and Pregnant in America. These films were eye-opening for me. While I never even considered having our kids at home, and could not have because I had pre-eclampsia, these films did really change my view of having a baby at home.
If you’d like to read some blog posts about home birth, check out Breastfeeding123.