A majority of people in the U.S. think "hospital" when talking about giving birth to a baby. However, home births are gaining in popularity, even in cramped Manhattan, The New York Times reports. A growing number of moms-to-be without medical problems have been choosing to stay in their familiar surroundings of home with the goal of giving birth without any medical interventions (but with a certified nurse midwife on hand for assistance, of course).
Even with the physical challenges of some residences—tight spaces, neighbors, and don't forget the mess afterward—the sound of "home" sounds too good to pass up for some women when it comes time to push. Plus, those challenges can be overcome: The NYT story talks about gathering up old towels and sheets in advance; buying disposable pads used for house-training puppies; leaving notes for your neighbors giving them the heads up of your birth plans in case they hear you screaming. Not to mention, you can have as many or as few people around for support.
The interesting detail about this rising trend, home birth professionals say, is that the increase is coming from professionals like lawyers and bankers, not the back-to-nature types one would think would be behind such an interest. The NYT story does point out that hospital births still outnumber those in homes by an huge margin.
Advocates cite the 2008 documentary "The Business of Being Born," by ex-TV host Ricki Lake, as one reason for the boom. The film showcases several home births and makes the case that women's bodies are equipped to give birth at home and the occasion doesn't have to be a medical event.. After all, birth has been around as long as human beings themselves.
Several national medical groups—including the American Medical Association and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists—have officially spoken out against home births, saying that a hospital is the safest place for the unpredictable process of childbirth.
However, for many women who are wary of hospital births and are not high risk medically, delivering at home was a legitimate option for many of our mom-to-be readers who shared their stories with us.
If you don't like hospitals, but staying home isn't for you, know that there's a world of childbirth choices out there. Check out our Have It Your Way feature for more information on other alternatives.
Maria Vega is Fit Pregnancy magazine's copy editor.