Back in the 1800s, giving birth at home, sometimes with the assistance of a midwife, was about the only option. But doing the same today generates both well-wishers and critics.
Watch the story Friday, Jan. 2 on "20/20" at 10 p.m. ET
"When you're told that this is ...[a] dangerous process and everyone around you is alert and expecting the worst, it's really Murphy's Law," she said.Does Home Birth Make Sense
The American Medical Association isn't taking any chances. To guard against accidents, and maybe to slow the trickle of rising home births, the AMA issued a resolution in June, saying that "the safest setting for labor and delivery is a hospital.
That's both obvious and sound advice according to Dr. Helaine Landy, a professor and chair of obstetrics and gynecology at Georgetown University Hospital in Washington, D.C.
"Having a baby in and of itself, can be a very dangerous situation, whether you deliver at home or in the hospital," she said. "But delivering at home, where one does not have all the ancillary support to be able to save the woman or save the baby, in my mind, just doesn't make a lot of sense."
For actress and former talk show host Ricki Lake, having a baby at home made perfect sense. Lake had her first child in a hospital but decided to have her second child at home with the aid of a midwife, filmed for her documentary "The Business of Being Born."
"I'm not anti-hospital, but more can go wrong in a hospital setting. You're on an assembly line, you're given one drug which leads to another drug, which leads to another drug," Lake said.
Although many women look forward to receiving drugs to subdue discomfort during labor, Lake said the pain of childbirth quickly slips from memory.
"It's very typical for any woman who's having a drug-free birth to say, you know, to hit a wall and to ... scream obscenities, but you forget the second you see that baby, you totally forget about the pain," she said.
Colette's comments: Making a common mistake, ABC confuses the issue of home birth with unassisted birth. There are currently no laws outlawing unassisted birth. There are, however, many states that do not allow home birth midwives (certified professional midwives) to legally practice, depriving many women and families an important safety net for planned home birth.