More American women skipping maternity ward in favor of home births

The number of women who opt to give birth at home is at the highest level it has been since 1990, climbing 20% between 2004 and 2008.

The results were published Friday online in Birth, and drew data from birth certificates filed in each of the fifty states. Certain regions, such as Western states, had higher increases, while areas such as the Southeast were less affected by the trend. In 2004, 0.56% of births occurred at home, or 23,150. By 2008, 0.67%, or 28,357 births were homebirths.

The study, authored in part by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention statistician Marian F. MacDorman, cited a vague heightened interest in Caucasian women as the defining factor accountable for 94% of the increase. Per the Los Angeles Times, that increase in interest may be partially due to larger representation in the media of the practice as well as discouragement from the medical establishment:

The increase in home births may be related to the popularity of movies like 2008’s “The Business of Being Born,” executive produced by actress Ricki Lake, or TV shows such as TLC’s “A Baby Story” that have followed women as they give birth at home in bed or in a bathtub. But the relationship may not be a simple one. The 2004-2008 increase actually began before many of the articles and movies about home births became popular, the authors noted, adding that the trend coincided with several statements of physician opposition to the practice of home births.

The study also indicated that more women chose certified midwives over other midwives in the years studied.