January 31, 2012 — The number of pregnant women who gave birth at home increased by 29% from 2004 through 2009, although home births continue to account for a tiny fraction of all deliveries, according to a CDC report, HealthDay/USA Today reports. CDC said the increase was driven by non-Hispanic white women, among whom home births increased by 36% during the study period.
Nationwide, home births accounted for 0.56% of deliveries in 2004, compared with 0.72% in 2009. The findings indicate regional differences in home birth trends. About 0.2% of women in Louisiana and the District of Columbia who gave birth did so at home in 2009, compared with 2% of Oregon women and 2.6% of Montana women.
The study also found that home births are more common among women ages 35 and older, and among those who have previously given birth (Reinberg, HealthDay/USA Today, 1/26). Women with healthy, uneventful pregnancies and no underlying medical conditions are considered possible candidates for home births (Rochman, "Healthland," Time, 1/27).
Saraswathi Vedam, chair of standards and practice for the home birth section of the American College of Nurse-Midwives, said, "Women and families have started to question the widespread use of obstetric interventions and want to control the environment they give birth in" (HealthDay/USA Today, 1/26).
Planned home births should involve a skilled birth attendant and equipment for oxygen, fetal heart rate monitoring, resuscitation and bleeding emergencies, Vedam noted. Women should be assessed as labor progresses to see if they need to be transferred to a hospital, she added ("Healthland," Time, 1/27).