A growing number of women are choosing to give birth outside of a hospital setting. In fact, according to a 2016 study that examined birthing trends, 60,000 women gave birth at home or in a birthing center in the United States.
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While out-of-hospital births are trending up in the U.S., Utah's increase is dramatic. A new report just released from the Utah Department of Health (UDOH) shows that in the 15 year period from 2000 to 2015, midwife-attended births in birthing centers increased by 340% and home births doubled during this time.
Ranking in the top five states nationally for planned out-of-hospital births, more than 3% of births in Utah occur this way. Some areas of Utah, specifically in the southwest part of the state, see rates as high as 5%. Utah is home to seven licensed birthing centers.
According to the report, Utah women who plan out-of-hospital births tend to be at a healthier weight prior to pregnancy, are less likely to smoke and are more likely to identify as white or non-Hispanic.
While many women birthed successfully at home, there are inherent risks with birth in any setting. Approximately 6.6% of planned out of hospital births resulted in a hospital transfer. Of the small number of women who transferred to a hospital, a majority (61.8%) went on to have a successful vaginal delivery.
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"The majority of women transferred to the hospital from a home or birth center have successful deliveries. We created the transfer guidelines to increase communication and safe hospital transfer for mothers and their newborns," stated Heather Bertotti Sarin, with the UDOH and the Utah Women and Newborns Quality Collaborative.
Bertotti Sarin said that the state does not track why women are choosing to have their babies outside of a hospital setting. "Our role is to help make sure that wherever they have their baby that it's safe," she said.