Home births rose 20% between 2004 and 2008, reflecting a small trend among some women toward natural birth, according to a government study. Fewer than 1% of US births occur at home, but the proportion is clearly going up. The increase was driven predominantly by white women: One in 98 had their babies at home in 2008, compared to one in 357 black women and just one in 500 Hispanic women. Home births had been declining from 1990 to 2004. The lead researcher attributes the flip-flop to a renewed “interest in a low-intervention birth in a familiar setting.”
The rise is notable because doctors groups have been increasingly vocal about opposing home births, The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has for years warned against home births, arguing they can be unsafe, especially if the mother has high-risk medical conditions, if the attendant is inadequately trained, or if there's no quick way to get mother and child to a hospital if something goes awry. Though the percentage of home births attended by certified midwives and nurse-midwives grew, doctor participation in home births declined by 38% from 2004 to 2008.