Out of hospital births are still relatively rare in the United States, accounting for less than 1.5% of all births, and approximately a quarter of these are unplanned or unattended. While the number of planned home births is low, the rate has consistently increased over the past several years.
Women may desire a home birth for a variety of reasons, including increased control over the labor and delivery process and possibly a decrease obstetrical intervention. However in the United States, various systemic and logistical issues render home birth less safe than hospital births – including lack of adequately trained providers, ready access to specialty consultation, and systems for transfer of care and transport to hospitals.
While the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Academy of Pediatrics respect the right of women to make medically informed decisions about the their delivery, both groups affirm that hospitals and birthing centers are the safest places for births.
Dr. Anitra D. Beasley works at the Baylor College of Medicine and specializes in general obstetrics and gynecology, family planning services, contraceptive counseling and complex contraceptive management for women with medical problems.