More Utah women choosing home births, Utah health report reveals

SALT LAKE CITY - More women are choosing to give birth outside of a hospital, according to a new report from the Utah Department of Health.

The report shows from 2000 to 2015, planned home births increased by 46 percent and births at birth centers increased by nearly 340 percent in Utah.

According to the Utah Women and Newborns Quality Collaborative, more than 3 percent of Utah births are planned to happen at home or a birth center rather than in a traditional hospital environment.

At The Birthing Center in Salt Lake City, midwives help moms to give birth in a more home-like setting, and work to give moms more of a say in their own care.

“We try to stay very unobtrusive and out of the way and let parents birth in the way they want to,” said Rebecca McInnis, owner of The Birthing Center.

Eve German is a midwife at The Birthing Center. She’s expecting her second child.

“I trust my life to them because I see what excellent care they give every single day," German said.

She’s not surprised many women like her are forgoing hospitals in favor of these options.

“I don't feel like we`re gambling. There's an excellent model with an excellent plan and protocols that are well-established. Outcomes are excellent.”

That's one of the top five highest rates in the country.

“In the early 1900s, almost all U.S. births happened outside of a hospital,” Heather Bertotti Sarin said, UDOH and the Utah Women and Newborns Quality Collaborative. “Today, around 1.4 percent of U.S. births occur in an out-of-hospital setting. For the central and southwest areas of our state, we see about 5 percent of planned births occurring in a home or birth center.”

The study also noted 6.6 percent of these planned out-of-hospital births required the mother to be taken to the hospital.

Utah Department of Health findings from the report showed women who planned out-of-hospital births compared with women who planned hospital births, were:

  • more likely to identify as White and non-Hispanic
  • at a healthier weight prior to pregnancy
  • less likely to smoke
  • women who had experienced five or more prior births

“Despite these positive findings, risks were identified," Bertotti Sarin said. "Women who planned out-of-hospital births were also more likely to initiate prenatal care late into their pregnancies, in the second or third trimesters. And some had obstetric risk factors such as multiple gestation or a history of cesarean section."

“We acknowledge that women have the right to choose to deliver at home or in a birth center, and women are choosing this option more frequently. Our goal is to ensure that, when necessary, maternal or neonatal transfer to the hospital is as safe and seamless as possible," Dr. Erin Clark said, a maternal-fetal medicine physician and chair of the Utah Women and Newborns Quality Collaborative, Out-of-Hospital Birth Committee.