Home Births - Then And Now

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A comparison of home-birth trends of the 1970s finds many similarities - and some differences - related to current trends in home births.

... in the 1970s - as now - women opting to engage in home births tended to have higher levels of education ... in the late 1970s, one third of the group's members participating in home births had a bachelor's, master's or doctoral degree. Fewer than one percent did not have a high school education.

Also, according to the 2,000 respondents to HOME's 1978 survey, 36 percent of women engaging in home births at the time were attended by physicians. That is a much higher percentage than is the case currently for mothers participating in home births. (In research by Eugene Declerq, Boston University School of Public Health, and Mairi Breen Rothman, Metro Area Midwives and Allied Services, it was found that about five percent of homebirths were attended by a physician in 2008.)

... The debate surrounding health, safety and home births rose to national prominence as recently as October 2011 during the Home Birth Consensus Summit in Virginia, held because of increasing interest in home births as an option for expectant mothers.

Overall, Kline's research of HOME and of ACOG counters the stereotypical view of the 1970s home-birth movement as countercultural and peopled by "hippies." In fact, the founders of HOME deliberately reached out to a broad cross section of women across the political and religious spectrum, including religious conservatives as well as those on the left of the political spectrum.

... "In looking through the historical record, we find that many women involved in home births in the 1970s signed their names 'Mrs. Robert Smith' or 'Mrs. William Hoffman.' The movement included professionals, business people, farmers, laborers and artists. It defies simplistic categorization."

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