Two years ago, when Athena was about to come into the world, it was the peak of the pandemic, an uncertain time, especially for moms about to give birth.
So Athena’s mom, Camila Vivo, delivered Athena at home.
“April, May, they were not allowing anyone in the hospital,” Vivo said. “I had a friend that had to deliver alone, and I was just terrified to go into the hospital alone.”
Instead of being alone, Vivo was surrounded by her husband, Tino, and toddler, Vicente, as well as two midwives, a doula and her pediatrician.
“It was beatiful, it was really beautiful,” she said. “Of course, we were nervous … I remember I was laying down in my bed and they saw the head and I started pushing … And then she was born and she was not breathing one minute, so that was I think the most stressful part … After like a minute she started doing cute noises and moving and took her first breath, but she never really cried.”
Home births are on the rise in the U.S., increasing 22% in 2019-20, according to NPR.
With that increase, home births account for about 1.3% of all births in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but not every woman is a candidate for a home birth.
High-risk pregnancies, for instance, make the time it would take to get to the emergency room a risk factor for mother and baby alike.
“Ultimately, one of the major obstetrical risks is the shoulders are stuck and you may only have seconds to a few minutes to deliver that baby, and it may be difficult to transfer mom and baby in that kind of emergency setting,” said Dr. Paniz Heidari, an OB-GYN.
Heidari has had serious conversations with her patients who are considering a home birth. In the case of her own children, one born in 2020 and one last year, Heidari delivered them in the hospital.
“There is a two-to-threefold increase of perinatal loss, death associated with home births … As women are giving birth at older age, they may have more complex medical issues. I think making that shared decision with your physician about what your risks are, I think is important and paramount to making that experience best for you,” she said.
Vivo, Athena’s mom, said she’s grateful to have had the choice to have her daughter at home, but more than anything, she’s thankful that her daughter is healthy and happy.
“I felt really empowered to have her at home and, of course, I was afraid as the day came closer, but it ended up being great,” she said.