Questions and Answers from the NWHN Women’s Health Information Clearinghouse: Homebirths
Q. I am pregnant and considering having a homebirth. Could you tell me more about homebirth in general?
A. The choice of a birth setting is personal, and the factors that go into this decision are different for all women. Birth is a natural process, and homebirth is a perfectly safe option for most women. Today, more women are choosing homebirth for a variety of reasons. Many feel that homebirth enables them to take charge of their birth in a comfortable, known environment. Homebirth assures privacy and the freedom to move, eat and drink during labor. Some women choose homebirth because they are concerned with the high rate of interventions associated with hospital birth, including episiotomy, Pitocin use, epidural and cesarean section. Giving birth at home means being able to choose who is there with you, and that no strangers will disturb you. In addition, homebirths progress naturally and actually pose a lower risk of infection than in the hospital. Finally, women often feel that they cannot make noise or pick a comfortable position at a hospital—usually not concerns in their homes.
Homebirths are usually attended by a lay midwife or a certified nurse midwife (CNM). Most midwives work with physicians who provide back-up care as necessary. Regulations on homebirth vary by state, and some states do not license CNMs to attend homebirths. If you plan to have a homebirth, you will receive regular prenatal care from your midwife. Bear in mind that while homebirth is usually much cheaper than a hospital birth, not all health insurance plans cover its costs. Homebirth can be a wonderful and empowering experience. Where you give birth is your choice, and you should pick the place in which you will feel the most comfortable.