Number of Out-of-Hospital Births on the Rise

A new analysis published in the American College of Nurse-Midwives’ peer-reviewed journal reveals that women are not only choosing midwife-led, out-of-hospital births at an increasing rate in the United States, but also that the pace at which women are choosing this option appears to be accelerating.

Recent Trends in Out-Of-Hospital Births, published in the Sept. 23, 2013 edition of the Journal of Midwifery & Women’s Health, also documented that substantially fewer out-of-hospital births occurred to adolescents and unmarried women in 2010 compared to 2004, and also that there were fewer preterm, low-birth-weight, and multiple births. The analysis confirms findings of previous studies suggesting that women are intentionally planning most of the out-of-hospital births. In fact, nearly all home births attended by midwives were reported as planned.

Study authors Marian MacDorman, PhD, Eugene Declercq, PhD, and T.J. Mathews, MS, analyzed national birth certificate data from 2004 to 2010, and found a 41% increase in the proportion of home births and a 43% increase in birth center births, with 10% of the home birth rise and 14% of the birth center rise occurring within the last year.

As of 2010, about 1 in 85 US births occur outside of a hospital. Researchers found that number is highest among non-Hispanic white women, with 1 in 57 of their births occurring outside a hospital. Geographic disparities in women choosing out-of-hospital birth are also apparent, with the greatest prevalence of out-of-hospital births occurring in the Pacific Northwest and the lowest prevalence in the southeastern United States.

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