The percentage of U.S. births that occurred at home increased by 12 percent in 2021, according to a new analysis, extending a rise that coincided with the COVID-19 pandemic and reaching its highest level since at least 1990.
According to a report from the National Center for Health Statistics at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and a report by US News, home births accounted for 1.41 percent of all births in 2021, up from 1.26 percent in 2020 and 1.03% in 2019. The total number of home births, whether deliberate or not, increased by 13% from 45,646 in 2020 to 51,021 in 2021.
“With the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020 and concerns about giving birth in a hospital, interest in home births increased among pregnant women in the United States,” the report states, noting that from 1990 to 2019, the percentage of home births in the U.S. increased by an average of only 2% per year.
According to the report, thirty states experienced considerable increases in their percentage of home births between 2020 and 2021. West Virginia experienced the biggest rise at 49%, followed by New Hampshire at 40% and Hawaii at 35%.
In the meantime, Connecticut witnessed a 17% reduction, and New York saw a 5% decline — the only statistically significant drops in the report. Idaho, Hawaii, and Wisconsin had the greatest rates of home births in 2021, at 3.56 percent, 3.28 percent, and 3.14 percent, respectively, while Louisiana and Nebraska had the lowest rates, at less than 0.5 percent.
From 2020 to 2021, the percentage of home births grew among white, black, and Hispanic women, with the largest increase among black women (21%). Hispanic women experienced a 15% increase in home deliveries, while white women experienced a 10% increase.