A recent report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that home births are gaining in popularity and all-in-all, home births have risen 20% in recent years. Still, many pregnant women and their partners are concerned that home births may not be as safe as a hospital birth, likely because home birth myths regularly circulate in the media and parenting circles. This happens because, when a home birth goes bad, the media is all over it, blaming midwives and the home setting. However, all is not well on the hospital front – it’s just that the media usually ignores the much more common hospital errors. Keep reading to see some common myths about home births.

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MYTH 1: Home births are more dangerous than hospital births.

FACT: Honestly, it’s hard to compare home birth and hospital birth statistics perfectly because there’s so many more hospital births than home births. Home births are on the rise, but still, fewer than 1% of U.S. babies are born at home. That said, the largest study of home birth to date shows that if you’re having a low-risk pregnancy, a home birth is just as safe as a hospital birth. Another large home birth study shows that the newborn death rate is just 1.7 deaths per 1000 planned home births. Better yet, ZERO mothers died during this large study.


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MYTH 2: Hospital births are very safe.

FACT: Most U.S. studies aren’t encouraging when it comes to mother and child health and mortality. More than 99% of all U.S. births take place in a hospital setting, and our mother and child mortality rates still suck, showing that hospitals aren’t as safe as you may think. To put this into perspective, the U.S. spends more more than any other country on health care, and yet, it’s more dangerous to give birth in the U.S. than in 49 other countries.

Amnesty International issued a report last year, “Deadly Delivery: The Maternal Health Care Crisis in the USA,” that shows that  pregnancy and childbirth related deaths for mothers have doubled in the past 20 years. In fact, this report shows that 13.3 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births occurred in 2006. Not good news, especially since “Healthy People 2010,” notes that there should only be around four maternal deaths per 100,000 pregnancies.

Another report, The State of the World’s Mothers shows that the U.S. has a child mortality rate of 6.71 deaths per 1,000 live births, which is worse than the home birth infant mortality rate. Also, this means we rank 29th in the world in infant mortality.

Furthermore, death aside, labor and birth intervention rates are rising like mad in hospital settings, leaving you and your baby vulnerable to health complications. The CDC notes that induced labor rates have more than doubled since 1990, and in fact, one in five births is induced. C-section rates have gone up by 50%, since the 1990s as well. It’s also estimated that annually 195,000 deaths occur in hospitals, due to medical error.

MYTH 3: Home birth is illegal.

Home birth is not illegal in any state. The glitch is that some states say that it’s illegal for certain types of midwifes to attend a home birth. If you live in a state that does not recognize midwives as legitimate care providers for a home birth, it’s obviously much harder to find someone to deliver your baby at home.

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MYTH 4: If you give birth at home, you’ll be alone.

As long as you live in a state where midwives are considered a viable option, you won’t be alone, unless you choose unassisted home birth. Almost all home births are attended by a certified nurse-midwife, a certified midwife or a non-certified midwife – in rare instances a physician may even attend. Also, you’ll have the ability to have your partner, other children and anyone else you choose present, such as a helpful birth doula.

MYTH 5: Home birth is too expensive.

A non-complicated home birth, out-of-pocket, costs far less than a hospital birth. It’s hard to discuss specific costs, but most sources notes that the average uncomplicated vaginal birth costs 68% less in a home than in a hospital. Of course, not everyone can afford an out-of-pocket birth, which sadly, makes this myth a half truth. Many insurance carriers do not cover home birth, making home birth out of reach. On the flip-side, a small handful of states already require that home birth be included in health care coverage. Hopefully other states will soon follow suit.

If you’re still not sure about home birth, keep in mind that your comfort level does matter, and can affect your labor and birth. If you’re too nervous about home birth, it’s better to choose another birth location. You may want to consider a birthing center which is a happy medium between home and hospital for many families. To learn more about home birth check out the following resources:

All images unless indicated © Flickr user eyeliam