In the midst of the pandemic, a growing number of expecting parents chose home birth over hospitals

A small but fast-growing share of expecting parents in the United States chose to give birth at home during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Home births -- which represent a tiny slice of all U.S. births -- surged nearly 20% between 2019 and 2020 to 45,000 births nationwide, according to analysis by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics.

It’s a 30-year high water mark. The rate of home births has been slowly increasing since 2004, but this pandemic-era surge marks a notable leap from the modest 1% increase in home births from the year before.

So why did more people choose home birth in 2020?

Interest in home birth likely increased because of “concerns about contracting COVID-19 while in the hospital, limitations or bans on support people in the hospital, and the separation of infants from mothers suspected to have COVID-19,” according to the CDC analysis.

More recent birth data has not yet been released, so it’s unclear if the pandemic-era bump in home birth is permanent.

A few more findings from the report:

  • During the pandemic, the share of home births vaulted from 1.03% of all births in 2019 to 1.26% in 2020, a 22% increase.
  • White women were most likely to have home births. Nearly 2% of their births took place at home.
  • Black women saw the biggest pandemic-era increase in home births, which jumped 36% from being 0.5% of all births to Black women in 2019 to 0.68% in 2020.
  • Hispanic women saw an increase too, with home births rising 30% from 0.37% of all Hispanic births to 0.48% between 2019 and 2020.
  • Every state but New Hampshire saw an increase in home births from 2019 to 2020, with 40 states seeing a “significant” growth – many with double-digit increases of more than 50%.
Anna Claire Vollers

Anna Claire Vollers |

I report mainly on reproductive and maternal health, working parents and family policy at Reckon News.

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