Increasing number of Utah women choosing home births

SALT LAKE CITY — Lauren Lewis has been pregnant six times in the past five years.

It wasn’t until early last month that Roman Vance Lewis finally made his debut. He arrived for the most part, safely, following his birth at the family’s Sugar House home.

Roman is Lewis’ third child, and he was her second to be born at home.

“I was never fearful of giving birth,” Lewis said. “I knew I was going to have this baby and as long as it looked healthy on all the ultrasounds and I had no problems with my body, I wanted to let nature take its course.”

She said succeeding at something so natural gives her a sense of great accomplishment as a woman.

“It is a miracle, an out-of-this-world miracle,” the now-mother of three said.

Home births are rising in Utah — with an 89 percent increase from 2004 to 2013, to more than double the national average — as more and more women are “searching for a natural experience,” said midwife Dee Gordon, owner of Heber City-based Genesis Birth Co.

Still, that only accounts for just a little more than 2 percent of total births in the Beehive State. Nationally, just 1 percent of babies are born in a home, according to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

And the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists considers home births “inherently more dangerous” than births in medically supervised situations (hospitals) because of unforseen complications and unplanned medical needs. Despite trends, the organization believes hospitals are still the best place for women to give birth.

Seeking ‘a moment’

Lewis’s first baby, a girl, was born in a hospital in New Mexico and the baby was taken away to be monitored after an ultrasound revealed the umbilical cord wrapped around her neck. The issue had all but resolved itself upon delivery, but it was hospital protocol to monitor the baby at least three hours for potential complications.

Lewis said she was sad she didn’t get to hold her first baby right after birth.

“I missed that moment,” she said. “I’ll never get that back.”

Birthing the next two at home gave her the experience she believes childbirth should bring — a deep connection with the baby and peace from familiar surroundings, even though her second child’s birth was a bit traumatic, lasting three days at home because of…

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