U.S. Women Have Higher Chance of Vaginal Birth When Choosing Home Birth

Vaginal Birth Location

Vaginal birth location is influenced by many factors.  U.S. Women can expect an approximate 94% chance of vaginal birth when planning to birth at home.  Only approximately 68% of women planning hospital birth will have a vaginal birth in the hospital.

Amnesty International reported in 2011 that cesarean births were at an all time high in the U.S. of 32.9%.

The CDC told us in 2015, 32% of women birthed by cesarean a decrease from prior years.

Improving Birth tells us 33% of women across the U.S. have a cesarean birth (27% of those are first time mothers).

CesareanRates.com documents 32.2% of women birthing by cesarean in 2014.

What influences vaginal birth rates?

At home, 11% of mothers can expect to transfer to a hospital, leaving 89% experiencing vaginal birth at home.  However, of the 11% that transfer to a hospital, 53% will still greet their baby by vaginal birth, the remaining percentage transferring for third stage, postpartum, or newborn care.  Altogether, this equals to approximately 94% of women planning to birth at home will birth vaginally, even if hospital transfer becomes necessary or desired, as the Midwives Alliance of North America (MANA) explains in their report of the 2014 home birth transfer systemic review.

The approximate 32-33% overall cesarean rate includes mothers that planned a home birth; however, less than 1% of women in the U.S. plan to birth at home, making little difference in the overall cesarean rate.

In many hospitals women are:

  • Required to birth within 12 hours of being admitted or from the time their amniotic sac ruptures or receive a cesarean
  • Not permitted to eat or drink throughout labor
  • Restricted on mobility during labor
  • Unable to choose their birth position
  • Expected to dilate at textbook rates
  • Monitored by a team that relays information to the provider to receive instructions on care
  • Not given a quiet, calm, or dark environment necessary for oxytocin production and labor progression
  • Directed through pushing strength and time
  • Not adequately supported through the basics of breastfeeding

At most home births, women are:

  • Provided with patience to labor as their body needs
  • Intermittently monitored to not disturb the laboring mother
  • Encouraged to push when they feel the urge to do so
  • Encouraged to eat and drink throughout labor
  • Personally monitored by the care provider for early signs of distress

Birth Location Considerations

  • Planned vaginal birth at home birth is considered as safe as, often with less intervention than, hospital birth for healthy women and babies
  • Increased risks in home birth are created when families that are expecting to birth in the hospital are not prepared by their care provider or educated on unassisted birth
  • Cesareans can be life saving for both mom and baby when utilized when necessary
  • Planned cesareans, in some situations, may decrease postpartum depression for some mothers unable to heal from traumatic birth experiences
  • Cesareans, in some situations, may influence neurological disorders in the child due to reduced oxytocin from induced, augmented, or excessively long difficult labors

How can I increase safety and prepare for birth in all locations?

  • Families educated on the birth industry and influence of care providers and birth locations are the ones choosing home birth.  Get educated.
  • Increase Dad's confidence with information specific to the birth partner's role in all birth settings.
  • Take an independent complete perinatal education series to learn about your rights in birth, options for birth, health and wellness, labor physiology, breastfeeding, postpartum care, and parenting basics
  • Schedule perinatal mentoring sessions for one-on-one guidance through the childbearing years, guidance for your specific situation, and confidence building for the whole birth team
  • Prepare for unassisted birth so that you are ready for all situations, even if you are not planning to birth alone.  Then, every choice you add on top of that will [should] only enhance the birth experience.  Panicking during an unplanned birth scenario is an important aspect of the increased risk during unplanned home births and unplanned unassisted births, even when families are preparing to birth at home.
  • Take responsibility in your perinatal choices by selecting a care provider and birth location that supports the biology of birth and breastfeeding, builds confidence and trust, and respects your rights and desires for you and your baby's health
  • Prepare your body and mind for a more holistic approach to birth with the FREE Esali Birth Prep 10-Week challenge, increasing physical and emotional health and increasing options available to you no matter where you birth