Home Birth: Why the rise?

Home birth is now on the rise in the United States. There are a few believed reasons for this. First, statistics related to maternity care in this country are not impressive. We have a high newborn death rate, as well as a high maternal death rate. Why is this, especially since we spend so much money on maternity care? Some believe that it is because of unnecessary practices done by doctors. In the USA there is a high Cesarean Section rate. C-Sections are sometimes medically necessary, but with a 32.8 percent rate in 2010, it seems like some of these are unnecessary. The World Health Organization recommends that countries only have a 10-15 percent rate. In the USA that number is almost doubled. More women are doing their research though, and seeing these numbers. They also may have had their own bad experiences in the hospital with a previous birth. They may feel like they were bullied into an unwanted intervention(s) or C-section. 

Another believed reason revolves around a new interest in the topic. A recent documentary has become popular, that revolved around the maternal health care system in this country. It gave mothers a positive look at home birth, and may have led to more women considering home birth. 

Home Birth: Is it safe?

Statistics on home birth seem to be rather favorable. In past studies it has been concluded that planned home birth can be as safe as hospital birth. When birthing at home women have a decreased risk of infection, and unnecessary interventions. What is important is that it is planned, and the mother is low risk. That means she is healthy overall. A high risk woman should be in the hospital, as well as any woman who feels more comfortable in the hospital.

Home Birth: Doula, CPM, CNM, What does it all mean?

When looking into home birth you may see one or more of these terms. It can be confusing if you do not know what each term means. First, what is a doula? A doula is a support person for a mother. This support can be offered before, during, or after birth. A birth doula assists women before and during labor. She is there to make sure that the mother is comfortable, and informed. Doulas are especially great when having a hospital birth because they will make sure that the mother is not bullied or mistreated during childbirth. Doulas are NOT medical professionals, and should not be used as one. Moving on, what is a CPM? CPM stands for certified Professional Midwife. CPM's must meet with the standards of certification set up by the North American Registry of Midwives. CPM's are very knowledgeable about out-of-hospital birth. They believe that birth is normal, and they treat it as normal. CPM's specialize in out-of-hospital birth. They mainly do home births, and some work in free-standing birth centers. Moving along, what is a CNM.? CNM stands for Certified Nurse Midwife. CNM's must meet the standards of certification set forward by the American College of Nurse Midwives. CNM's go through nursing school, and are legal in all states. Most CNM's work in the hospital, though there are some that work outside the hospital. Last, I want to mention specifically two other terms: licensed midwife and lay midwife. I have seen both these terms with the LM abbreviation. They are very different terms though. In the state I live in (Wisconsin) midwives must be licensed. To receive a state license they must be either a CPM or a CNM. In my state LM refers to licensed midwife, not lay midwife. Though CPM's are sometimes called lay midwives, a lay midwife more appropriately refers to midwives that has received no license or certification. A lay midwife may be very knowledgeable in regards to pregnancy, and childbirth. A lay midwife may also have little to no knowledge. 

 Home Birth: I would like to have one, so what do I do next?

If you have done your research, and have decided that home birth is the right choice for you, there are some things you should do. First you are going to want to find out what the laws are in your state. Are CPM's able to practice in your state legally? Are midwives licensed in your state? What does that exactly mean? Then you are going to want to research your options for midwives. Ask around, and make sure that the midwife you hire is highly trained. Your midwife should also have a good reputation within your community. Once you find a midwife make sure you are honest with her about your health. She needs to know about your past and current health. A good midwife will not allow a high risk woman to give birth at home. Then relax and enjoy your pregnancy. Before you know it you will be missing the time you were pregnant. You will miss the movements from within, and the moments you had with your baby before he or she was born. 

All and all, home birth is a great option for low risk women that are comfortable with birthing in their homes. One though must do their research before deciding on a home birth.