More women gave birth at home in America last year, continuing an epidemic trend and reaching the highest level in decades, according to figures released by the CDC on Thursday.
The report says that almost 52,000 births took place at home in 2021 out of 4 million total births in the country. This was a 12% increase from 2020. The number rose by 22% in 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, more than in 2019.
There were several possible reasons for the increase in home births. Infection rates and hospitalizations were high. Vaccinations were not available or widely used, and many people avoided going to the hospital or doctor, said Elizabeth Gregory, lead author of the report.
Also, some women did not have health insurance, lived far from a medical facility or did not get to the hospital quickly enough. About 25% of home births are not planned, according to the Associated Press.
The increase in home births occurred among all races, but home births were less common among Hispanics.
AP reported that home births are riskier than hospital births according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. The association advises against home births for women who have multiple children or who have previously had a caesarean section.
“Hospitals and certified birthing centers are the safest place to give birth, because although serious complications related to labor and delivery are rare, they can be scary,” said Jeffrey Ecker, MD, chief of obstetrics and gynecology at Massachusetts General Hospital.
CDC: “Changes in home births by race and Hispanic origin and maternal residential status: United States, 2019–2020 and 2020–2021.”
Associated Press: “US births rise in pandemic, to highest level in decades.