In recent years, the pendulum has been swinging towards home birth and more women are asking the question: what are the home birth pros and cons?
This is an important question to ask when considering where to deliver your baby.
Read This Before We Talk About Home Birth Pros and Cons
First, let’s start with why home birth is even becoming popular again. Up until the early 20th-century, most women delivered their babies in a home setting. In 1900, only 5% of women delivered in hospitals.
Gradually, more women were sold on the idea that they could have pain-free deliveries and that doctors, instead of midwives, were a safer and more suitable choice for childbirth.
By the early 1920s, as many as 50% of women delivered in hospitals.
Birth in the decades to come was not pleasant and most women of this time were sedated during labor and had no memory of their birth experiences.
But then the 70s came, and women’s liberation brought with it a woman’s desire to have a say over her birth experience again.
With improvements in technology and the progression of the medical industry, we have now reached what we know of birth today.
Medical interventions still hold precedence in most of America’s birth industry, and a lot of women don’t like it. They prefer to trust their bodies. This is why more women are turning to the option of home birth.
Okay, now let’s tackle these home birth pros and cons.
Pros of Home Birth
As a home birth mama myself, I can tell you lots of benefits to having your child at home.
First, you are in a comfortable and familiar setting. You are free to go where you please and do what you like in your own home.
There’s no concern about whether or not it’s the right time to go to the hospital.
At home you only have to worry about your own germs. There’s no risk of catching other patients’ sicknesses. You can allow whomever you want around the baby.
There’s no concern about the baby being taken from your hospital room or being handled by countless nurses.
You can also eat and drink as much as you like and birth where and how you want. There’s no doctor telling you where to lie down and what you can’t do.
Once the baby is born, your midwife and her assistant will also clean everything up so you don’t have to worry about laundry or birth messes. You can just enjoy your baby.
If you’re having a healthy pregnancy and you like the idea of laboring in a comfortable environment without interventions and medications, a home birth may be a good option for you.
But Just How Safe is a Home Birth?
The biggest concern of many expecting women is the safety of having their babies at home.
In a 2005 study following 5,418 women in the United States planning a home birth, 12% wound up transferring to the hospital during labor. Only 3% were for medical emergencies.
Another ACOG report showed that there is an increase in fetal deaths for home births. The hospital fetal mortality rate is approximately 0.9/1,000 and for home births it’s 2/1,000.
Much of the fear of home birth revolves around some what ifs. What if there’s a problem? What if I need to be transported to the hospital in the middle of labor? What if my baby dies?
These are all serious questions to consider. Midwives are trained in recognizing problems in labor early on and can make it known if a transfer is needed.
In addition, they carry equipment to treat problems that may arise, such as oxygen for the baby and mom, pitocin to control bleeding after delivery, and resuscitation equipment.
It is rare for emergencies to arise, but it is true that at times they do.
While the thought of a potential problem can be terrifying for some moms, there’s no guarantee that a hospital birth will be safer.
A scary and dangerous situation can also arise in the hospital, especially with all the medical interventions that attempt to prevent problems.
Other Home Birth Cons
A big factor about home birth is the lack of medications.
To have a home birth you must be committed to natural labor. If you’re not sure if you’ll want an epidural or not, it may not be wise to deliver at home.
Another concern for expecting parents is cost. Depending on your insurance and what’s covered, it can be more expensive to have a home birth. On the other hand, for those without good insurance, a hospital birth can be much more costly.
What to do Next
If you’re considering a home birth and trying to determine if it’s right for you, here’s some advice.
Don’t ask for your OB’s opinion. Don’t make a decision based on what your friends say (even if they’ve had a home birth). And don’t read biased articles online. Contact a home birth midwife (or two or three).
Ask them about the risks. Ask them about their experiences. Ask what they have done and would do in an emergency. Seek the professionals for a professional opinion.
Then come to a decision based on the information you collect.
Making the Decision That’s Right for You
Considering how far we’ve come in the last century, this really is a great time for women to birth babies.
We have the medical knowledge and hospital technology in case of emergencies, and we have the acceptance and rising popularity of home birth for women wanting a more natural experience.
Most importantly, women are able to choose in this day and age which option is best for them.
One is not necessarily better than the other. It is her decision and what she wants is truly the best choice for her.