To evaluate recent trends of out-of-hospital births in the US from 2009 to 2014.
We accessed data for all live births occurring in the US from the National Vital Statistics System, Natality Data Files for 2009–2014 through the interactive data tool, VitalStats.
Out-of-hospital (OOH) births in the US increased from 2009 to 2014 by 80.2% from 32,596 to 58,743 (0.79%–1.47% of all live births). Home births (HB) increased by 77.3% and births in freestanding birthing centers (FBC) increased by 79.6%. In 2014, 63.8% of OOH births were HB, 30.7% were in FBC, and 5.5% were in other places, physicians offices, or clinics. The majority of women who had an OOH birth in 2014 were non-Hispanic White (82.3%). About in one in 47 non-Hispanic White women had an OOH in 2014, up from 1 in 87 in 2009. Women with a HB were older compared to hospital births (age ≥35: 21.5% vs. 15.4%), had a higher live birth order(≥5: 18.9% vs. 4.9%), 3.48% had infants <2500 g and 4.66% delivered <37 weeks’ gestation. 4.34% of HB were patients with prior cesarean deliveries, 1.6% were breech, and 0.81% were twins.
Since 2004 the number of women delivered out of the hospital, at home and in freestanding birthing centers has significantly increased in the US making it the country with the most out of hospital births among all developed countries. The root cause of the increase in planned OOH births should be identified and addressed by the medical community.
In obstetric practice, each pregnant woman presents with a composite of maternal and fetal characteristics that can alter the risk of significant harm without cesarean intervention. The hospital’s availability of resources and the obstetrician’s training, experience, and skill level can also alter the risk of significant harm without cesarean intervention. This paper proposes a clinical ethical framework that takes these clinical and organizational factors into account, to promote a deliberative rather than simplistic approach to decision-making and counseling about cesarean delivery. The result is a clinical ethical framework that should guide the obstetrician in fine-tuning his or her evidence-based, beneficence-based analysis of specific clinical and organizational factors that can affect the strength of the beneficence-based clinical judgment about cesarean delivery. We illustrate the clinical application of this framework for three common obstetric conditions: Category II fetal heart rate tracing, prior non-classical cesarean delivery, and breech presentation.