Some massage therapists also practice as a doula, or birth assistant, a specialty that includes coaching and massaging pregnant women during the birth process. Just-released research results related to this specialty show that home births in the U.S. increased 20 percent from 2004 to 2008.

The 28,357 home births in 2008 represent 0.67 percent of the approximately 4.2 million births in the United States, the highest reported proportion since 1990, a press release noted. “This change was largely driven by a 28 percent increase in home births for non-Hispanic white women, for whom more than 1 percent of all births now occur at home.”

In fact, approximately 94 percent of the increase in the overall percentage of home births from 2004 to 2008 was due to the increase for non-Hispanic white women.

“At the same time, the risk profile for home births has decreased, with substantial drops in the percentage of infants born at home who are preterm or low birthweight, and born to teen and unmarried mothers,” the press release noted.

“The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists in 2011 issued a statement disapproving of the practice of home birth. Nonetheless, as Marian MacDorman lead author of the report notes, ‘A significantly larger number of women in 2008 have chosen to opt for a home birth experience, a development that will be of interest to practitioners and policymakers.'”

Montana had the highest percentage of home births (2.18 percent), followed by Vermont (1.96 percent) and Oregon (1.91 percent).

The study is published online in Birth: Issues in Perinatal Care

Related articles:

Doula’s Presence Improves Labor: Research

Supporting Pregnancy with Massage Therapy

Touching the Future: The Beneficial Effects of Pregnancy Massage