Story from Here and Now. Listen to audio above for full report.
A recent study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that home births increased by 20 percent between 2004 and 2008.
White women led the uptick in home births, which still only account for around 1 percent of all births in the U.S.
Some women say they want more control of their bodies and are rejecting the hospital and its technology. Medical anthropologist and home birth advocate Robbie Davis-Floyd told Here & Now's Robin Young that cost is also a consideration for many choosing to give birth at home.
"A vaginal birth in the hospital can cost anywhere from $7-10,000, a cesarean section can cost between $20-30,000 whereas a professional midwife who attends you at home for 9 months of prenatal care is $2,500-4,000."
However, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, which certifies OB-GYNS, warns against home births, especially if the mother has high risk conditions.
Midwives are legal, licensed and regulated in 27 states. They're illegal in 9 states, and they fall in a gray area in the remaining states. Becoming a midwife requires on average three years of training, during which a midwife learns how to recognize signs that a woman needs to go to a hospital.
"Midwives have a wide repertoire of skills to deal with the emergencies that do happen at home, but an even wider repertoire of skills to transport to the hospital appropriately so that those emergencies do not happen at home," Davis-Floyd said.
"Here and Now" is an essential midday news magazine for those who want the latest news and expanded conversation on today's hot-button topics: public affairs, foreign policy, science and technology, the arts and more. More "Here and Now".