Nine years later, I can't believe how much has changed. I can't even count the number of people I know who have given birth at home (or would be open to the possibility). So many women! That is partly because I have sought friendships and attracted friendships with like-minded people. But I don't think that's the only explanation. I think giving birth at home is becoming more and more common. In fact, I know it is.
Did you see that report back in March from the CDC? Amy Newman from RH Reality Check summarizes it's findings:
Over the last five years, out-of-hospital births (which includes home birth and birthing at a free-standing birth center) rose 3 percent and home births rose 5 percent after having sharply declined between 1940 and 1969 and then remaining static over the last few decades.Clearly women aren't abandoning hospitals in droves. We're talking about a tiny percentage of the total births in the U.S. But I expect that trend to continue. Not because hospitals are BAD. They're not bad. They serve an essential purpose for women who experience birth complications. But I expect home births to continue to rise because more and more women are realizing that, being low risk, they can have an equally safe but likely more satisfying birth experience staying home. And the more women choose that path, the easier it becomes for their friends and family members to choose it... and on and on.
I often wonder what maternity care will be like in the U.S. when my daughters reach their childbearing years.
I know my daughters may not choose the same path I have chosen. I will support them in whatever they choose. But watching them both scramble to get on my lap whenever they hear the unmistakable sounds of a YouTube birth video, seeing their complete and utter fascination with every detail, their comfort level and curiosity as a baby head emerges from its mother... all of that makes me hopeful that they will at least not enter their childbearing years fearful and uneducated.
When my oldest daughter does tell me, on occasion, that she doesn't want to have babies because "It will hurt," I always smile and respond, "But it's SO COOL! I love doing it!" I hope that hearing my love of birth will, with time, ease her fears. I plan to school them all their lives in the beauty of birth and teach them how to help each other and other women through that process. It makes me so happy to think of them doula-ing each other some day... and their friends... and their daughters... and grand-daughters.
When I got married in 2001, no one in my family or circle of friends would have ever dreamed of giving birth at home. Ever. And now I'm surrounded by home birthing mommas... and looking at the possibility of generations of my own daughters joining those ranks. What a beautiful sight.
Change is good.