Despite a decrease in home births between 1990 and 2004, the number of home births actually increased between 2004 and 2009 by 29%, an upturn of 0.56% in 2004, to 0.72% in 2009. In 2009, a total of 29,650 home births were reported in the United States. This is the most home births reported since researchers began analyzing data on this topic in 1989.

The report, called “Home Births in the United States, 1990-2009”, was issued by the National Center for Health Statistics, part of the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).

Home births are most common among women ages 35 and older and women who have previously given birth to several children. Among non-Hispanic white women, there was an increase in home births of 36%, from 0.80 in 2004, to 1.09% in 2009. By the end of 2009, an incredible 1 in every 90 babies birthed to non-Hispanic white women are born at home. These births tend to be less popular with women of other ethnic categories.

Home births are more prevalent in the Northwestern areas of the United States. Montana reported the highest number of home births in 2009 (2.55%), with Oregon in second (1.96%), and Vermont following in a close third (1.50%). Pennsylvania, Utah, Wisconsin, Idaho, and Washington reported 1.50% of home births occurring.

US home births

On the other hand, in the Southeastern part of the country, home births were not as popular. The reports show less than 0.50% of home births took place in Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Illinois, Massachusetts, Nebraska, New Jersey, Rhode Island, South Dakota, and West Virginia, as well as from Texas to North Carolina. However, the rest of the U.S had large increases in reports of home births occurring between 2004 and 2009.

  • More private, less chaotic
  • The woman is surrounded by the comforts of her own home
  • Fewer people involved
  • Lower chance of a C-section
  • Cheaper
  • More personal experience

62% of home births reported in 2009 occurred in the presence of midwives, while only 7% of hospital births had a midwife present. 19% of home births had a certified midwife present, and 43% of home births were supervised by other types of midwives, for example, direct-entry midwives or certified professional midwives. The study reports that a mere 5% of home births had taken place in the presence of doctors, probably because the majority of them occurred without notice. 92% of hospital births had doctors present.

33% of home births were supervised by someone other than a doctor or midwife. For example, family members may have helped, or possibly, an EMT that was called to the scene. Less than 1% of hospital births were attended by someone other than a doctor or midwife.

The way women choose to deliver their babies has drastically changed in the last 100 years:

  • In 1900, the majority of births took place outside of a hospital – very few women had their babies at a place other than their own homes.
  • During 1940, only 44% of women chose to have their babies at home
  • By 1969, 1% of women were having their babies at home. (These figures remained the same into the 1980s)

Written By Christine Kearney