If it seems like more and more women are opting for home births lately ... well, that's because they are. It's not like droves of women are doing it, but since 2004, there's been a small but steady increase in "out-of-hospital" births. In 2011, it was 1.26 percent of births; in 2012, it was 1.36 percent. It's not exactly mainstream yet, but it's on its way. I suspect that with every positive experience a woman has with her home birth and birthing centers, there's at least one friend who becomes a little more curious about trying it at home herself.
But here's the bigger picture. I think this trend could affect even women who wouldn't dream of giving birth any place but a hospital. In fact, it's already changing how women have babies, regardless of where.
The researchers who presented these finding say, "If this increase continues, it has the potential to affect patterns of facility usage, clinician training, and resource allocation, as well as health care costs." In other words, this could affect everything from how labor nurses are trained to how much it costs to have a baby, even in the hospital. It could change the way women have babies in the hospital.
While we all know home births aren't for everyone (and it's mostly women with low-risk pregnancies jumping on the home birth bandwagon), doctors and hospitals have noticed that there are certain things about home birth that appeal to almost all pregnant women. More and more of us want the birthing experience to feel less like a medical emergency (unless of course it really is one), and more like the profound and empowering life experience that it is.
This is why we're seeing more birthing tubs in hospitals and more comfortable, homey labor rooms. What once were routine practices, like the preemptive episiotomy, are now only used when necessary. Dads are in the labor room and cutting the umbilical cord. We have home-birthing pioneers to thank for these changes. You may not want to take on that risk, but we're all benefiting from those who do.
Do you feel like more of your friends are opting for out-of-hospital births the past few years?
Image via eyeliam/Flickr