For decades families have been making the informed decision to birth their babies in the safety and comfort of home with a qualified attendant. For decades those families have been stereotyped as outlaws who live on the lunatic fringe, as people who are brave and at worst - people who are negligent and put the lives of their babies and themselves in life threatening harm's way.
Not many people understand that homebirth is a viable and valuable option for women who are low/no risk and who have a qualified attendant with them. Hardly anyone in the mainstream understands that the horror stories of homebirth are usually ones that were not planned or with women who have medical conditions that necessitated birthing in a hospital with medical backup.
Most people think that it's illegal to birth at home. This is perhaps the greatest fallacy next to assumption that homebirth is unsafe.
Recently, Citizens for Midwifery released a fact sheet outlining the most recent study which supports the safety and efficacy of homebirth with a qualified attendant. In most cases, this is a midwife who is certified professionally.
This fact sheet is outstanding educationally and statistically. If you are a homebirther and would like to have information at your fingertips to share with others, if you are trying to help educate family members on homebirth, if you want to help spread the news (which really isn't news to all the rest of us) and especially if you are interested in the information ....then go and check out the new fact sheet.
As far as brave - I think people who go to the hospital to have their babies are brave. Statistically you are much more likely to be subjected to interventions and procedures that have a high likelihood to complicate your labor process with side effects that are not routinely explained.
Negligent? How are we homebirthers negligent when we take the responsibility to inform ourselves of our options and then make an informed choice to birth at home.....when the majority (notice I do not say all) of women who birth in a hospital have taken a few hours of Patient Compliant Classes and know very little about the labor process or the risk of the procedures that will be routinely offered to and performed on them?
Illegal? This is a free country - we can birth out babies any where we want or happen to be. If this weren't true - the jails and courtrooms would be packed with people who have precipitous labors and don't make it to the hospital before the baby is born. These are the people you see on TV telling their stories of births in taxi cabs, buses, planes, elevators, along side the road, etc. If its fine and dandy (and makes the evening news) when someone has their baby by "accident" at home or in a peculiar place...and those people aren't breaking the law.....then why is it that those of us who educate ourselves and plan our births are considered negligent? Its the same location and safer because there is a qualified and experienced attendant with us.
What may be illegal is the person that attends you. This varies state by state. Some states have laws protecting a woman's right to choose alternative care outside of a regular obstetrician and institutional birth. Some states make it illegal for someone who is 'not' a certified nurse midwife to attend births outside of a hospital setting. Some states have no laws tand it can go either way. So remember, it is not illegal to have your baby at home (or wherever you want for that matter) but it may be illegal to be attended by someone who is not licensed or certified by your state.
Do your homework, inform yourself before you choose. Choose wisely - no matter what your location.
A good place to start might be the fact sheet that I mention above.