Home births accounted for 1.41% of all births in 2021 compared with 1.26% in 2020 and 1.03% in 2019, according to the report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics. The overall number of births at home, whether intentional or not, rose by 13% year over year, from 45,646 in 2020 to 51,642 in 2021.
“With the start 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 says, noting that from 1990 to 2019, the percentage of home births in the U.S. saw average annual increases of just 2%.
Monthly statistics in the report show that the percentage of home births over the past three years first peaked in May 2020 at 1.49%. That level was surpassed in January 2021 when the share of home births hit 1.51%, corresponding with a high point in weekly COVID-19 death rates.
Thirty states saw significant increases in their percentage of home births from 2020 to 2021, according to the report. West Virginia saw the largest increase at 49%, followed by New Hampshire and Hawaii at 40% and 35%, respectively. Meanwhile, Connecticut saw a decline of 17% and New York saw a decline of 5% – the only drops the report indicates as being statistically significant.
The states with the highest shares of home births among all births in 2021 included Idaho at 3.56%, Hawaii at 3.28% and Wisconsin at 3.14%, while Louisiana and Nebraska had the lowest shares, each with less than 0.5%.
The percentage of home births also increased across white, Black and Hispanic women from 2020 to 2021, rising the most among Black women at 21%. The percentage of home births among Hispanic women increased by 15%, while for white women the figure saw a 10% rise.