Utah Women Twice As Likely To Choose Homebirth Compared With National Average

Aug 28, 2017

Elijah West was a big baby.

“I like to say it was twelve, but I think it was really 11.5, right?” he asked, turning to his mother Diana for confirmation.

“You know what, I don’t recall exactly, but it was right around 11,” she said. “You were big, that I know.”

Diana had planned to have a home birth, but decided to consult a physician when Elijah was a week overdue.

“He was quite alarmed. He said, ‘This is a huge baby. You cannot have a home birth,’” she recalled.

The doctor told Diana there was a chance of shoulder dystocia, a kind of obstructed labor in which the baby’s shoulders become stuck. He recommended a C-section and said that if Elijah were born naturally, he would likely have to break his collarbone.

Diana consulted her midwife.

“She said, 'I’ve never broken a collarbone,’” Diana said. “She said, ‘I’ve never purposefully broken a bone and it’s always ended well.’”

With the help of a team of midwives, the labor was fast and painful, but Elijah was born without any broken bones, or harm to his mother.

“It was certainly nicer at home. I healed up quickly. I hate to admit this, but with one of them, I was actually back at work a week later,” Diana said with a laugh.

According to a report from the Utah Department of Health, two percent of Utah women chose to have a home birth in 2013. That’s double the national average.

Findings show women who choose home birth are more likely to be 35 or older and have some education after high school. In low-risk pregnancies, the health of babies born at home was comparable to those born in hospitals.

Alissa Weller had four home births.

“A lot of it is just feeling more confident and comfortable because you’re in your own space, with people you know there,” she said.

Weller says that for women considering a home birth, it’s important to research, understand their risk level and be confident in their decision.

“Look at what your gut’s telling you, if this is the right thing for you, and what all the factors are, because you’re going to have pushback from people,” Weller said. “So you have to be confident that it’s the right thing for you.”

According to the report, there were about 3,700 home births in Utah between 2010 and 2013, out of about 200,000 total births.