Home Births

Home Births: Benefits and Tips

For centuries giving birth at home was the norm. By the 1900s increasing numbers of women started having their babies at hospitals. However, as our understanding of anatomy, modern medicine, the mechanics of childbirth, and technology have significantly increased, more women have been willing to consider the option of having a home birth.
This option involves the participation of trained midwives or nurse-midwives in cases of low-risk, healthy pregnancies. As interest in home birth increases, the number of studies will continue to grow to provide us with a greater understanding of the related risks and benefits.
The following information is designed to help women make an informed decision:

Could a home birth be right for me?

Home birth may be an option for you if:

  • You are having a healthy, low-risk pregnancy
  • You want to avoid an episiotomy, cesarean section, epidural and other similar interventions
  • You want to share the experience with family and friends
  • You want to be free to move around, change positions, take a shower, and eat or drink freely during labor
  • You want to enjoy the comforts of your home and familiar surroundings

Home birth is not for you if:

Most midwives will bring the following with them the day of delivery:

  • Oxygen for the baby if needed
  • IV’s for mom if she becomes dehydrated or needs additional nutrients
  • Sterile gloves, gauze pads, a cotton hat for the baby, drop cloths, waterproof covers for the bed, a thermometer, a pan for sitz baths after birth
  • Fetoscopes or ultrasonic stethoscopes
  • Medications to slow or stop a hemorrhage
  • Special herbal preparations, homeopathic remedies, massage supplies/techniques and perhaps even acupuncture needles
  • Items for suturing tears

How often and under what circumstances would transfer to the hospital occur?
According to a study in the United Kingdom, approximately 40% of first-time mothers and 10% of women who have previously given birth are transferred to the hospital for delivery.
The following are some of the reasons women are transferred:

For a breakdown of percentages you may refer to the following study:

Tips When Considering a Home Birth

  • Put together a health care team consisting of a midwife and an obstetrician
  • Interview several midwives regarding their birth philosophy. You might be more comfortable with a midwife who shares your view of birth
  • Write out a Plan B in case a hospital transfer is necessary
  • Hire a doula
  • Find out if your midwife works with a backup OB/GYN
  • Find a pediatrician who will examine the baby within 24 hours of the birth


Home birth may be significantly easier on your bank account. An average uncomplicated vaginal birth costs about 60% less in a home than in a hospital.

Home birth provides immediate bonding and breastfeeding. Early breastfeeding helps the mother stop bleeding, clears mucus from the baby’s nose and mouth, and transfers disease-fighting antibodies in the milk from mother to baby.

Home birth allows you to be surrounded by those you love. By including children, family, and friends in the birth process, you are provided with many helpers, and everyone involved has the opportunity for intimate and close bonding.

Recommended Reading
You may find the following books helpful.

Homebirth: The Essential Guide to Giving Birth Outside of the Hospital, Sheila Katzinger
The Thinking Woman’s Guide to a Better Birth, Henci Goer
Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth, Ina May Gaskin

Want to Know More?

Compiled using information from the following sources:

1. Home Birth Reference Site

2. The Birth Book. Sears, William, M.D., et al, Ch. 3.

3. Birth Your Way. Kitzinger, Sheila, Ch. 3 & 4.

4. Gentle Birth Choices. Harper, Barbara, R.N., Ch. 8.