(NEW YORK) — Home births in the United States reached the highest level in three decades during the first two years of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a new report released Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics.
The report’s findings show the nationwide number of pregnant people giving birth at home rose from 1.26% in 2020 to 1.41% in 2021 — an increase of 12% and the highest level since at least 1990. That followed a 22% increase from 2019 to 2020.
The percentage peaked in January 2021 at 1.51%, according to the report.
Nevertheless, the vast majority of U.S. births still happen at a hospital or birthing center. Prior to the pandemic, the country’s rate of home births hovered around 1%.
The report noted that interest in home births increased due to COVID-19 and “concerns about giving birth in a hospital.”
The rise in U.S. home births from 2020 to 2021 was sharpest among Black women, with an increase of 21%. That followed a 36% increase from 2019 to 2020, according to the report.
For Hispanic women, home births increased 15% from 2020 to 2021, following a 30% increase from 2019 to 2020. For white women, home births increased 10% from 2020 to 2021, following a 21% increase from 2019 to 2020, according to the report.
From 2020 to 2021, the percentage of home births was on the rise in 30 U.S. states, with increases ranging from 8% for Florida to 49% for West Virginia. That followed increases in home births in 40 states from 2019 to 2020, the report said.
Medical associations like the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists assert that every individual should have the right and opportunity to choose how they want to give birth. But they also say that hospitals and birthing centers are the safest places to give birth because trained professionals can intervene quickly if something goes wrong.
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