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Benefits Of Home Births For Black Women

April 19, 2024

Birthing is a rite of passage. An initiatory path that only an experienced woman who has moved from the maiden to the mother can truly understand. Traditionally, birthing was done in the comfort of the home, with family and a head matriarch to deliver the baby. Somewhere along the way, delivering a child became a business. This act of creation turned into a means for the western medical industry to commodify life. This became apparent when I watched a documentary titled The Business of Being Born. The film explores America’s approach to childbirth in the healthcare industry through the eyes of mothers, experts, doctors, midwives and doulas while sharing the importance of women to know their options for alternatives to hospital. It critiques the capitalistic model entrenched within the hospital system, spotlighting its overreliance on pharmaceuticals, expensive interventions, and the portrayal of childbirth as a medical crisis. While hospitals are often synonymous with illness, childbirth, inherently natural—raises the question: why opt for hospital births if they aren’t deemed ‘high-risk’?

According to a CDC study released in 2022, home births are on the rise in the U.S., “the highest level since at least 1990” and Black women are choosing to stay in the comfort of their homes for delivery. After interviewing Black mothers, doulas and advocates it became clear that choosing how to deliver a child is an revolutionary act. I discovered home births for Black mothers can be an issue of life and death. Though their personal reasons range, a few benefits stand out. 

Doula, mom and Black Maternal Health advocate Bianca Pitman, of Be You Beauty shared some rationales include “being more comfortable, making decisions about your birth, less interventions, decrease in the need for a cesarean, observing your religious and spiritual practices, freedom of movement, and immediate bonding with baby.”

Reduced Risk of Medical Racism

Historically speaking, Black women have had a difficult journey in the U.S. Brought to the country solely to breed, they bore children for profit. As slaves, Black women were seen as both workers and reproducers who “bore one child every 2 1/2 years.” Slave breeding left deep scars of industrialized medical racism that Black women are still fighting today, especially via childbirth. 

Joyell Arvella, JD comes from a long lineage of birth workers and shares, “I caught my first baby at 16 years old and have been supporting wombs ever since.” She is a trilingual traveling doula who “graduated from law school with the intent to protect human rights and bodily autonomy.” She weaves her experience working in law to be an advocate for Black mothers and voice of justice for reproductive rights through Wombs of Wata. Joyell says “having the option to give birth at home is crucial for women to reclaim autonomy over their bodies. Particularly bodies that have historically experimented for the sake of reproductive science. Bodies that have endured eugenic regimes, and countless violations of their wombs in life and death.” Home births can give Black mothers a voice, a space to be heard in their process. Pitman explains “when you work with a midwife or doula, you foster this relationship and connection that you aren’t very privileged to have with most doctors. Especially us, being that they don’t take our pain, circumstances or decisions seriously.” 

High Birth Mortality Rate for Black Women 

The cry for reproductive justice amongst Black feminist continues to echo the voices of enslaved women as “the mortality risk of carrying a pregnancy to term is more than three times higher for Black women compared with white women” (PRB). Pitman shared “pregnancy-related causes that could have been preventable not only during childbirth, but also in the postpartum period.” She also noted “Black women also have the highest rate of cesarean deliveries.” 

Lower Intervention Rates

Choosing home birth also allows Black mothers to experience less intervention.“Giving birth is not an inherent medical emergency,” Joyell shares.“Oftentimes, hospitals can feel like jails. Someone telling you what you can and cannot do, constantly monitored, decisions made for you, procedures being done without your informed consent. The environment can have a lot of noise pollution. All of which can disrupt hormone flows, cause stress and prevent someone from having their desired birth outcome.” 


She later discussed the economical benefits that a home birth may offer, iterating that “Birth is big business in the United States. Capitalism does not care about womb efficiency, it is more concerned with how much money can be made from medications and procedures. Depending on the location, hospital births can cost $20,000-$50,000+. Birth centers can cost $6,000-$13,000, while some home births can cost $4,500- $9,000, which is still way too much!” 

Familiar Comfort 

“My son was able to come Earth side in a warm, loving, peaceful and serene environment with familiar voices, sound bowls, incense and overall good energy. It was a comfortable and familiar environment” Pitman explained. 

Hadiya Staine, a Black mother of two had her first child in a hospital and the second in at home surrounded by family. While discussing the polar opposite experiences she endured delivering her children, she shared that the constraints of the hospital experience propelled her into birthing her daughter at home. She prepared for her home birth with hypnobirthing and a blessing ceremony. She gave birth home alone with only her husband to catch her daughter and the midwife on the phone to guide them. She felt her body was in control and just had to listen to her intention. 

It’s important to note that home births still come with risks, and complications as one mother explains “I had a homebirth, but not the peaceful kind I thought I would have.” But these situations are reduced tremendously when taken care of by a dedicated team. Women can also have beautiful hospital births and “not every experience has to be traumatic, especially when some midwives, nurses, and birth workers are committed to supporting safe birth outcomes.” Says Joyell, who suggests for those interested in a home birth “start writing out your birth vision. Who do you want to witness your rite of passage? Then start building your birth team.” Learn your options and discover how a home birth can support you to reclaim your roots and the wisdom of your body!