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May 1, 2013 / amiller1012

Natural and home birth trends

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, almost all births took place outside of a hospital, most of which were in the home. By 1940, the number had dropped to less than 50 percent and by 1969, had diminished to nearly one percent.

There are several developments that occurred after World War II that are believed to have influenced this decline. Medical education opportunities increased, resulting in nearly double the number of medical schools and physicians.

The Hill Burton Act increased access to hospital care and hospitals then began offering pain relief methods that were not available outside of a hospital setting. Many women were drawn to lower pain levels over the natural birthing experience.

However, one of the largest influences was the establishment of employer-based health insurance and the creation of Medicaid. It provided insurance for most pregnant women, but only in the care of doctors and hospitals, not midwives.

While home births are still rare in the United States, less than one percent of births, the numbers have continued to grow since 2004. This does not include births in a birthing center.

The percentage of births outside of a hospital setting is difficult to further categorize (home, birthing center, other specified locations) because it was not thoroughly distinguished before 1989.

Many women are beginning to return to the natural birthing process, both inside and outside of the hospital setting. Hospitals do not expect a woman to endure the pain of labor or expect a laboring woman to control her contractions.

Emily McClements describes her natural birthing experience within a hospital setting and offers advice for other expectant mothers with the same desires. Click here for her story.

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