The idea of giving birth at home brings to mind black and white movies from the olden days where a pregnant woman, in severe pain while having labor, is attended to by a hilot (who lives far away and has to be fetched by car) holding a metal pan while coaching the mother to push the baby out.
Well, that 1960s scenario is re-emerging, as an increasing number of pregnant women are reportedly now opting for home births over hospital deliveries.
In the medical journal Birth: Issue in Perinatal Care, researchers published a study indicating that home births rose by 20 percent over four years in the United States.
Home birth proponents stress that the home is the best place for a pregnant woman to give birth in because of the solace the familiar surroundings bring, not to mention the security of being in the presence of family and loved ones. They also enumerate the disadvantages of giving birth in a hospital, such as medical intervention in the form of drugs and modern healthcare which they consider unnatural, the indifference with which caregivers attend to patients because they are complete strangers, and not allowing the mother to experience birth pains, which is supposed to help ‘empower’ a woman.
Medical groups, on the other hand, maintain that home births are unsafe, and that they expose the mother and child to unnecessary danger resulting from the inexperience of birth attendants. There is also the fear of complications which may arise from high-risk pregnancies.
In the Philippines, the Family Planning Survey of 2006 showed that the number of midwife-assisted home births is declining even in rural areas where it used to be popular due to the lack of trained personnel and medical facility. According to the National Statistics Office who released the report, the Ilocos region and the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) registered the highest numbers of midwife-assisted births from 2004 to 2006. It also mentioned that the government is working with stakeholders and communities to help reduce the rate of maternal mortality, which is a great health concern.