Celebs, Ordinary Women Embracing Home Birth With Help of Midwives

Celebs, ordinary women, embracing trend.

July 31, 2011, 10:25 PM

Aug. 1, 2011 — -- Before hospitals became part of the basic standard of care, women gave birth at home. Now, it seems that home birthing is back.

Hollywood moms are increasingly opting to have their babies at home rather than in the hospital. Jennifer Connelly, Gisele Bundchen, Alanis Morissette and Alyson Hannigan are all new moms who are part of this growing trend.

So is actress and former talk show host, Ricki Lake. She told "Good Morning America" about her reasons for choosing home birth.

"With TMZ and paparazzi, it was nice not to leave and not have cars chasing you and trying to get the picture of your baby," she said.

In fact, Lake has become the face of Hollywood home birth. In her documentary, "The Business of Being Born," she showcased the water birth of her second son, Owen.

"Your own space is so sacred. Something about being home and not having to pick up and leave and to not be in a place where people are sick and there's germs and everything is so sterile and cold and impersonal. Just having freedom," Lake said.

That is a sentiment echoed by Milagros Guzman. The Brooklyn woman is getting ready for baby number 4.

She had her first two children – sons Lucas and Andres – in a hospital, but decided to have Mateo at home. For her, the difference was dramatic.

"At the hospitals you're pretty much at the discretion of what it is they want you to do. At home, it was just me on my own. Owning the power of my own body was very, very beautiful. And being able to labor in the way that I wanted, whatever position it was, not having to lay on my back, was really great," she told "GMA."

So this time around, she's staying at home once again, having a water birth – which means she'll deliver in a tub. She won't have any painkillers.

"People didn't know it was an option, so when I would tell friends that I did have a home birth they were like 'Really? You can do that at home? It's not illegal?' Yeah, I have my midwife," Guzman said.

Her midwife is Karen Jefferson, who for the past 11 years has been helping women give birth at home. Jefferson, a certified, licensed midwife, has never been busier.

"I really have seen an increase in my practice, I frequently have to turn people away because I'm full," she said.

Recent studies show that home births are up 20 percent. But even with this renewed interest, fewer than 1 percent of babies in the United States are born at home.

For Lake – whose first son was born in a hospital – those numbers don't make sense.

"Normal birth to me is not being numb from the waist down and being hooked up to an IV and being flat on your back and waiting for the doctor to tell you push. That's not normal to me. That is what the normal is now but I don't think that's what normal should be," she said.

So what should normal be?

"I think it should be whatever a woman wants it to be. It can be so much more than that," Lake said.

Her film has quickly become a must-see for mothers-to-be, and these days, Hollywood moms routinely come to her for insight.

It's almost as though she's become the Hollywood doula, a word which refers to woman who helps others during pregnancy, birth and after the birth.

"I really fantasized about being a midwife," Lake said.

For her soon-to-be-released follow-up film, Lake interviewed singer/songwriter Pink, and supermodels Cindy Crawford and Gisele Bundchen.

But home births aren't for everyone. One-third of American mothers – including many A-listers – have C-sections. Victoria Beckham recently had her fourth.

"For a certain population, hospitals are certainly safer, (for) high-risk women or pregnancies that have medical issues, then the hospital is a better place for their birth. For (a) low-risk woman, it is not necessarily safer for her or the baby in the hospital," Karen Jefferson, a midwife, told "GMA."

Lake added: "I think that most women feel safer in the hospital … I felt safer for my body at home. I'm not advocating that people do what I did. I'm simply sharing my story. I had one at home one at the hospital and I happen to prefer the home birth. Because I felt like I was able to be more responsible for my body."

Guzman, too, has the advantage of having both experiences. And for her, the choice was just as clear.

"I always tell everyone who wants to know how it's an amazing experience to be able to birth at home, in your own environment, if you want your children there they can be there. It's peaceful and beautiful. Exactly how any birth should be," she said.

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