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Childbirth at Home on the Rise, Says Report

Creatas Images/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- More women are opting to deliver their babies at home, according to new research published Friday in the journal Birth.

Using birth certificate data, researchers from the National Center for Health Statistics report they saw a 20 percent rise in home births between 2004 and 2008.

"I think there's a variety of reasons for the increase," said Marian MacDorman, a statistician and lead author of the report.  "The desire for a low-intervention birth in a familiar environment surrounded by family and friends, lack of transportation in rural areas, and cost factors could all factor in."

The total cost for a home birth, MacDorman said, is roughly one-third the cost of a hospital birth.  So for women who don't have insurance, delivering at home is cheaper.  On the other hand, not all insurers cover home births.

Another factor contributing to the rise in home births could be the simultaneous rise in C-sections -- the focus of the 2008 documentary, The Business of Being Born.  The film, produced by actress and talk show host Ricky Lake, suggests childbirth was transformed into a highly medicalized procedure in the twentieth century, citing reports that 95 percent of U.S. births took place at home in 1900.

Despite the hefty boost in recent years, home births still account for less than one percent of all deliveries.  And while acknowledging that the risks associated with home births are low, the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology does not support the practice.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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