There has been a small, but significant, increase in community births (home and birth-center births) in the United States in recent years. The rate increased by 20% from 2004 to 2008, and another 59% from 2008 to 2012, though the overall rate is still low at less than 2%. Although the United States is not the only country with a large majority of births occurring in the hospital, there are other high-resource countries where home and birth-center birth are far more common and where community midwives (those attending births at home and in birth centers) are far more central to the provision of care. In many such countries, the differences in perinatal outcomes between hospital and community births are small, and there are lower rates of maternal morbidity in the community setting. In the United States, perinatal mortality appears to be higher for community births, though there has yet to be a national study comparing outcomes across settings that controls for planned place of birth. Rates of intervention, including cesarean delivery, are significantly higher in hospital births in the United States. Compared with the United States, countries that have higher rates of community births have better integrated systems with clearer national guidelines governing risk criteria and planned birth location, as well as transfer to higher levels of care. Differences in outcomes, systems, approaches, and client motivations are important to understand, because they are critical to the processes of person-centered care and to risk reduction across all birth settings.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Obstetrics and Gynecology