It’s no secret that home births in the US have been on the rise for a while. In fact, between 2004 and 2009 alone there was more than a 25% increase in the number of women opting for home births (versus going the traditional route of checking in to a hospital). That number has steadily increased year-over-year, and experts agree that home births will most likely continue to become more popular as time wanes on. 

With the coronavirus pandemic currently in full swing, thousands of women are foregoing hospitals in lieu of their homes, and are trading a team of doctors and nurses for midwives and doulas. Apart from some of the obvious reasons as to why this is happening (i.e. fear of contracting a deadly disease - COVID-19), this trend of home births raises some interesting questions. Why are more and more women choosing to give birth at home? What are some of the associated benefits of home births versus traditional births at a hospital?

In the following sections we explore the answers to these questions (and more). Whether you’re considering a home birth, want more information about the services that midwives provide, or want to know about the difference between a doula and a midwife, we have you covered below. 

Why Home Births Are Becoming More Popular 

You might think that home births are only becoming popular in the US, but the reality of the situation is that they’re on the rise in nearly all developed regions across the world (especially Europe). This begs the question, then, of what’s causing this dramatic increase? The answer to this question is a bit more complicated than you’d think. 

According to Hearth and Home Midwifery, which is a childbirth education and midwifery services company based out of Portland, OR, one of the main reasons why home births are on the rise is because of the level of autonomy they place on the women giving birth. 

This, coupled with the fact that C-section procedures have also been steadily on the rise in hospitals (which is something that most women wouldn’t like to have if possible), is one of the main reasons why women are choosing home births - giving birth at home allows for total autonomy over the decisions that are made (during all stages of birth).

Midwives: Everything You Need to Know 

If you’re considering whether or not to have a home birth, one of the first things that you should look into is hiring a midwife. However, before you can actually find a local midwifery company to choose, you need to understand the specific services that a midwife can offer. Below is a list of some of the more common services offered by most midwives in the US:

Comprehensive care before, during, and after the birthing process
Pain management (either via prescription medications or natural methods)
Childbirth education 
Early child care strategies and techniques 
Medical examinations (e.g. gynecological, pelvic, breast, etc.)

Of course, the level of care that your midwife can provide ultimately depends on how much experience they have, their specific certifications, how large their practice is, etc. There are lots of variables that go into midwifery, so it’s important to take your time in researching options in your area. 

Midwives vs Doulas

Another care provider that can assist in home births is known as a “doula.” However, there’s an important distinction that must be made when it comes to doulas: they’re not medical professionals. This is where the difference between a midwife and a doula comes down to; midwives are medically trained healthcare professionals - doulas are not. 

With that being said, doulas offer valuable services to expecting mothers. Remember, doulas are not midwives, but this doesn’t mean they don’t provide invaluable support during the labor process. You can think of a doula as a childbirth guide. They know how to provide the right type of support (emotional, physical, and mental support) that will allow you to have an optimal childbirth experience. 

Lastly, prior to a home birth you’ll want to check in with local medical professionals to assure your body is in proper health to sustain a home birth without avoidable complications. Certainly, prior modern medicine, this was the way with young women—but even healthy mothers have had serious health conditions from the birthing process, and you want to be careful. If you’re in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, look into the services of an OBGYN in Dallas; if you’re elsewhere, be sure you know what local reproductive health specialists resonate with you, and consider getting examined.  

Benefits of Home Births 

As we’ve already mentioned, the primary benefit of having a home birth is the level of autonomy that’s placed on the woman giving birth. Not only that, but you have the pleasure of giving birth in a familiar environment, surrounded by people who you actually know (and more importantly - trust). Whether it’s with a midwifery practice, with the assistance of a doula, whichever way you prefer, giving a home birth is becoming the preferred choice of women around the world.