Pandemic Fuels Interest in Home Births Among Pregnant Women

Faced with tightened restrictions at hospitals, many mothers now consider switching to plans to deliver their babies at home

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The coronavirus pandemic changed how many Americans live their daily lives and for expectant mothers, it has made for some hard decisions, like whether to have their babies at the hospital, under tight restrictions, or have their babies at home.

The dilemma has lead to a home birth trend, fueled by the pandemic.

Google Trends shows searches for home births surged at the height of the pandemic.

Becky Hines, at Dallas Birth, estimates that her practice, the number of women who've switched from plans for a hospital birth to a home birth has jumped by 200% during the pandemic.

"COVID has definitely brought midwifery care into the forefront, for sure," said Hines.

Her client, Melissa Mathis of Fort Worth, made the switch at 37 weeks pregnant, in the hopes of continuing on her plan of her third un-medicated birth.

Mathis said she had planned for a hospital birth, but the uncertainty of having her midwifery team with her, along with other concerns, prompted her decision.

"There was a lot of unpredictability about COVID and testing, and masks, and who was going to be allowed in the room and who wasn't going to be allowed in the room. If I did test positive, would I be separated from the baby? " said Mathis.

However, unlike all expectant mothers, Mathis was a good candidate.

She lived near a hospital, is relatively young and had a healthy pregnancy, with no complications.

Approximately 1% of U.S. parents opt to have babies at home or have unplanned births at home.

While the numbers of home births are slowly increasing, rates of home births in the U.S. still don’t compare to those in other countries.

Studies show risks, like infant death can be twice as high for home births compared to hospital births.

Experts say younger moms who have no complications and are healthy are the best candidates.

"It's not for everybody. For those who do choose it, it is here to stay and just going to continue to grow," said Hines.

Mathis labored in her hallway her third baby in her bedroom, with her husband and midwives, by her side.

"It is kind of strange for me to have had the baby on my bed. It was the most amazing thing in the world," said Hines.

TODAY recently featured this article, full of advice for parents interested in home births.

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