TUESDAY, March 4, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- The percentage of
U.S. women choosing to give birth at home or in a birthing center
rather than a hospital has grown by 56 percent in less than a
decade, according to a new government report.
Although hardly the norm, out-of-hospital births accounted for
1.36 percent of U.S. births in 2012, according to the U.S. Centers
for Disease Control and Prevention. A year earlier, 1.26 percent of
births occurred away from a hospital, while just 0.87 percent of
such deliveries took place in 2004.
"That's a pretty good jump in a single year, and it's been a continuing trend since 2004," said T.J. Mathews, a demographer with the CDC's National Center for Health Statistics.
The new numbers reflect the ever-growing popularity of home
births aided by midwives, said Lynn Johnson, midwife and
administrator of Women's and Children's Services at Huntington
Hospital in New York.
"More people are talking about midwifery birth and having their experience as they would like to have it," Johnson said, adding that some women worry about losing their autonomy and having a doctor call the shots during delivery.
Two-thirds of the out-of-hospital births occurred at home, the
CDC found, while another 29 percent occurred in a birthing center.
Another 5 percent occurred in a clinic, doctor's office or other
The CDC also reports births outside the hospital carried a lower
"risk profile" in 2012, with a smaller proportion of preterm and
low birth weight babies than in hospital delivery rooms.
This would appear to run counter to a recent Cornell study that
found the risk of a baby dying is nearly four times higher when
delivered by a midwife at home than by a midwife at a hospital.
Mathews said the reduced risk of home childbirth compared to
hospital birth likely stems from good screening by obstetricians,
who advise women facing a dicey delivery to give birth in a medical
"If you're planning a home birth, then you're hopefully having a conversation with your physician or your midwife about whether it's a good idea," he said. "If there is risk, women seem to be going to the hospital, or giving birth near a hospital."
Dr. James Byrne, chair of Ob/Gyn for Santa Clara Valley Medical
Center and a clinical professor at Stanford University School of
Medicine, agreed with that assessment.
"The women with risk factors are less likely to be delivering at home, which is wise and safe for the public," Byrne said.
For example, fewer births to teen mothers and fewer multiple
births -- both tied to greater health risks -- occurred outside the
Byrne added that a new emphasis on physiologic labor, in which
the labor process is allowed to unfold at a slower, more natural
pace, has improved the safety of birth both at home and in the
In addition, many midwives now work with a woman's full medical
team, which improves the safety of home delivery. "That can greatly
facilitate prompt and effective consultations if problems arise,"
Byrne said. "It eliminates a lot of barriers."
Byrne said some women should rule out home delivery out-of-hand
-- those with prior C-sections, women who are morbidly obese and
women at risk for breach birth.
Other highlights of the report follow:
The findings are published in the March issue of the CDC's
NCHS Data Brief.
The American Pregnancy Association has more about
EBSCO Information Services is fully accredited by URAC. URAC is an independent, nonprofit health care accrediting organization dedicated to promoting health care quality through accreditation, certification and commendation.
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
Copyright © EBSCO Information Services. All rights reserved.