According to the book “Lying-In: A History of Childbirth in America,” by Richard W. Wertz and Dorothy C. Wertz, less than 5% of the births in the United States during 1900 happened in a hospital. During the 1920′s, those figures started to change and by 1939, about 50% of the total U.S. births took place in a hospital, and those figures continued to rise.
There are many factors for why this change occurred. For one, people were buying automobiles. Instead of a doctor or midwife traveling to the expectant mothers’ home to deliver a baby, the expectant mother could travel to the hospital, where the doctor was waiting.
The pendulum has begun to swing again, as more and more women are beginning to choose home births. The National Center for Health Statistics claims that the number of women giving birth with the help of a mid-wife has doubled from 4% in 1990 to 8% in 2003.
There are many reasons why a woman would choose a home birth versus a hospital birth. For starters, having the baby at home means the woman gets to labor and deliver in an environment that is familiar and comfortable.
Many hospitals have rules about how many people can be in the room with the expectant mother. When a woman gives birth at home, she can invite as many people as she wants.
Women also have more control over their labor when they give birth at home. Unlike a standard hospital birth, where the woman is laying on her back, a woman is able to find the most comfortable position at home. Some may choose to give birth on all fours, squatting, kneeling, or even while soaking in warm tub of water.
Home births are also less intrusive than hospital births. The expectant mother will likely have two mid-wives assisting her. However, the mid-wives will stay in the background unless they are needed. This allows the woman and the baby’s father to have more private time during this time. When an expectant mother does need assistance, the mid-wives are able to focus exclusively on her, as she is their only patient.
Woman that are carrying more than one baby or have risk factors such as high blood pressure or diabetes are normally encouraged to give birth in a hospital. If you do not have any risk factors and are experiencing a normal pregnancy, a home birth could be an option for you.
Naturally, this is a big decision and if you are thinking about a home birth, you should consult with your health care provider to determine what the best choice for you and your baby will be.