“Why not Home” tells the stories of doctors, nurses, and midwives who have attended hundreds of hospital births, yet chose to have their children at home. How did these women with inside knowledge of birth evaluate the evidence and make their decisions? Through the experiences of these women, both at home and in the hospital, we gain unique insights into risk, safety, and the experience of childbirth in America.
Less than 1% of women in the U.S. currently deliver at home, but that number is increasing. The evidence about safety is difficult to interpret. Some suggest it is safer than hospital delivery for low-risk women. Other studies cite infant death rates 3-4 times higher for home birth vs. hospital birth. How can both be true? If it really is safer, then why do so few women choose it? If it isn’t, then why would these women and others like them choose to put themselves and their children at risk?
At one time, home birth was the norm, and hospital birth was the exception. Now, nearly 99% of births in America take place in hospitals. With the normalizing of hospital birth, the notion of home birth carries a certain stigma and evokes fear and judgment from many. How did we become so fearful of birth in America? Has birth changed in significant ways? Through a combination of personal stories and scientific data about safety and interventions, we explore these questions and more.