Home birth is an option that more and more women are considering for their birthing experiences. Home birth was once the norm, as women all over the world gave birth at home for thousands of years. In the last few hundred years, doctors began to be a fixture at the bedside of a woman giving birth, though it was still done at home.
Up until the 20th century, however, giving birth was the most common cause of death for women all over the world. That statistic is often used to get women to give birth in a hospital, but is often misunderstood.
Women did die often from childbirth, but it wasn’t for a lack of medical intervention or modern medical technology. The main cause of death in these cases was from “childbed fever,” which was simply an infection from unsanitary conditions. The infections could be caused by the surroundings, from the instruments used during the delivery, or simply from being handled by a doctor who had not washed his hands.
Because most people today believe in germ theory, there is less reason now to use medical facilities and personnel, though they are actually used much more often now. Giving birth at home may be gaining popularity, but it’s still a fringe activity that is looked on with suspicion by many.
Home birth in many instances is safer than giving birth in a hospital, as there is much less risk of a Cesarean birth due to epidural use and other medical interventions. The rate of birth complications is far fewer for home births than it is for births in a hospital, though part of this is because women with problem pregnancies don’t often attempt a home birth.
There is, however, much less risk of infection at home because of staph and other infections that run rampant in hospitals.