Untrue Assumptions About Homebirth

By Megan Leary


Assumptions About Homebirth


Out of all of my hippie ways, I surprisingly get the fewest inquiries as to why I decided to birth from home.  My theory is that people have already decided that homebirth is a bad thing and do not want to broach the topic in order to avoid awkwardness.  However, if you are one of these people I want you, most of all, to ask me about my decision.  If you have a hard time understanding why a mother might choose to homebirth, it is likely you are drawing conclusions about birthing at home from assumptions that are simply not true.


The most common untrue assumption is that homebirth is not safe.  First, certified midwives are trained and educated to do this.  They are guardians of safety.  This is their profession.  They are trained to see the first signs of trouble.  They know how to respond to any situation that could arise.  They know when, and are not too proud to, send a mom to the hospital.  Second, midwives have all the equipment at the ready to ensure safety and everything is just as sterile as you would find them in a hospital.   Moms do have quicker access to operating rooms in the hospitals should it be necessary, but I could get to the hospital quicker than an OR can be prepped and an OB paged and readied (especially the way my husband drives).  Besides, I feel confident my midwife would have me there way before an immediate need for surgery.  And I can’t help but add … If you think there is a soul on this planet that cares more than me about the health and safety of my baby, you are outta your mind!


Another untrue assumption is that U.S. doctors and hospitals are the greatest thing to happen to modern birth.  One out of every three women who walk into a hospital to have a baby will be wheel-chaired out with a Cesarean scar.  The U.S. currently ranks 50 in maternal deaths in the world.  When you look at all the developed countries in the world, the U.S. stands apart from the rest in how we care for pregnant women before, during, and after childbirth.  So it’s not just looking for reasons a mother would choose a homebirth, but also the reasons she would choose to stay away from the commonly accepted standard of care the U.S. has adapted.


My least favorite assumption is that homebirth moms are careless, peace-signing, mother-nature-loving, dirty, hippies out to prove a point and be better than the suburbanites.  Homebirths are increasing in the U.S. and over half of homebirth moms are college educated.   They are typically married and, statistically speaking, they have probably already had one birth in a hospital.  Also, while I agree that birthing is a very spiritual experience, my personal experience with homebirthing communities shows a strong link between Christianity and homebirth individuals.  This is of course not to say that hippies can’t also be Christian, but it should paint a different picture of the archetype homebirthing mom for those with a prejudice.


If you are genuinely curious about why a mom chose to homebirth, ask her.  I will bet that she is willing and open about what led her down that path.  It requires a lot of research, personal reflection, and effort to find a care-giver. She is likely passionate about her decision, the miracle of childbirth, and anxious to put these assumptions to bed.


Image: My daughter and me just 12 hours after our homebirth.




Megan Leary

About Megan Leary


I am a work-at-home mama of one darling girl and a baby boy who is still on the way! I am an advocate of natural and homebirthing.  I am passionate about pregnancy, breastfeeding, cloth diapering, and most things natural in a mama’s life.  Visit me and my friends at our blog Hippies with Babies.

4 thoughts on “Untrue Assumptions About Homebirth”

  1. You make a great case for why parents should consider a possible home birth. Many just pass it off without and research. In fact most parents have no idea what will happen to them during the typical hospital birth either. I wish parents would fully research their options so they could make informed decisions. It can be a little daunting but I encourage everyone to interview anyone they are considering hiring for their health care too!

  2. Lovely article, and one I agree with on many levels as a mom of eight (most of whom were born at home with a midwife), and as a student midwife.
    I wish I could wrap my heart and my good supportive intentions in words that would make it totally clear that by sharing my concern, I am not being negative about your article or about homebirth. That’s not at all my intent.
    The thing that has just kept niggling at me since I read this earlier today is the paragraph about safety. It treads fearfully close, in my reading, to saying that a midwife can assure a safe and healthy birth. No one can do that, and I get cringy to think that as homebirth advocates we might inadvertently paint that picture for prospective homebirthers… or lay that burden on midwives.
    Studies show that planned homebirth with a professional midwife is at least as safe as hospital birth for comparable risk sets. Additionally, there are many (not-so-safe!) interventions that are much less likely with planned homebirth with a midwife. You say many true and lovely things about midwives in your paragraph on safety.
    At the same time, I think it is vitally important to recognize that while the process of birth generally goes most smoothly with the least intervention, and is not a disease or a “problem,” it also does not come with a guaranteed result of a safe and healthy mom and baby. There are risks that come with birth, as there are risks that come with the rest of life. There are risks to hospital birth, and there are risks to homebirth. The key is educating yourself on the various risks and choosing the set with which you are most comfortable.
    Again, I so appreciate the article, and especially your point encouraging those in doubt about the homebirth choice to go ahead and ask questions! Great job, and I hope you don’t mind me adding a caveat.

  3. I wish I could have a homebirth, but even as a healthy, young mother it turns out I have a few risk factors that convinced me to transfer my care to an OB in order to have access to certain interventions at the hospital.
    I fully love and support the HB movement, but I wish it wasn’t so misleading about why women end up accepting interventions. I’ve received misleading information from midwives, such as that “95%” of women wouldn’t “risk out” of midwifery care, that intuition always knows best (I consider myself very in touch with myself and had no idea anything was wrong), and that there’s an equally if not superior, effective “natural” alternative to most interventions.
    When I asked again after risking out myself, another midwife at this same practice said the number is more like 30% of their seemingly healthy patients develop conditions or risk factors they don’t feel equipped to handle.
    I guess when so many of us go against nature for decades, we can’t expect nature to be on our sides when we call on it (for example with medical interventions to natural fertility such as birth control, being older at first births, abortion, IVF, etc.).

  4. Please check out the Business of Being Born on You Tube. It’s an historical account of obstretics, midwives, home births and medical interventions. A real eye opener.

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