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Home birth or hospital?

The best setting for your birth experience

Home births are becoming more popular since celebrities such as Ricky Lake and Robin Sullivan of the reality show Sisterwives decided to bare all for the cameras. Home birth has some benefits, but is it right for you?
Baby

Here are some things to consider if you're thinking about giving birth at home.

The number of home births in the U.S. has been steadily climbing over the last several years.

Crib

Though still less than 1 percent of the 4.2 million annual deliveries, according to the New York Times, this is a reverse for a trend that has not been popular since the early 1900s.

A cultural shift towards more "natural" preferences in health care, as well as celebrities paving the way and speaking publicly about their experiences, could explain why home births are seeing a resurgence.

The Hollywood list of moms who chose home births -- Jennifer Connelly, Cindy Crawford, Gisele Bundchen, Alanis Morissette and Alyson Hannigan, to name a few -- only seems to be growing longer at record pace. And Ricky Lake's documentary The Business of Being Born provided viewers with a front row seat to the birth of her second child, at home.

Both home and hospital birth have their pros and cons.

Before jumping on the home birth bandwagon, however, take the following points into consideration. Ultimately the setting you choose should depend on what you want out of the experience and the safety of mom and baby.

Home birth usually means more control

Midwives generally like to avoid medical intervention unless absolutely necessary for the safety of mother and baby. During a home birth, as opposed to one at a hospital, there is far less monitoring and you are free to eat, move about uninhibited and have people around you. If you're someone who gets freaked out at the sight of needles or doctors in white lab coats, then a home birth might help ease the anxiety. Giving birth can be a stressful time, so laboring at home helps many mothers relax and let nature take over.

Risks and complications

A home birth is right for healthy women who have had no complications during their pregnancies.

Home birthing women should not be carrying multiples and those who have had prior C-section deliveries need to be in a hospital.

A back-up or emergency plan

You need to be somewhat close to a hospital should a complication arise during a home birth.

It is more common for first time mothers to need transportation to the hospital than women who have already given birth vaginally.

Do you want medicated pain-relief?

Very few midwives use medication for pain relief. Natural methods include positioning, massage, breathing and warm baths. If you want medication, home birthing may not be for you.

Insurance

Not all insurance companies cover home births, so your out-of-pocket costs may be higher than with a hospital birth.

Read more about home births

Homebirth essentials: 10 items you need to have on your home birth shopping list
How to handle an unexpected birth at home
How to plan a home birth

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