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Citing COVID concerns, more people are choosing to give birth at home

Researchers found there were 926 home births in the first year of the pandemic in Minnesota, compared to 800 in 2018.

MINNESOTA, USA — The COVID-19 pandemic is now changing how some people are choosing to deliver their babies.

Researchers say it's leading to a dramatic increase in home births across the country and Minnesota.

"I've been in practice for more than 16 years and I've seen the numbers of home births increase dramatically," said licensed midwife Aly Folin, who has even had to hire another midwife at her St. Paul practice to keep up. 

"The increase in the last two years is definitely COVID related," said Folin.

She says she delivered 32 babies at home in 2020. In 2021, she delivered 45.

"For a lot of people, it's really about wanting the autonomy of being able to say, 'This is what feels right for my body and my baby,'" said Folin.

People who research home births and how it might impact insurance rates found the numbers are going up nationwide.

"Even when we look at 2020, we saw home births stay consistent in January, February and March, and then in April they jumped up by 45%," said Nick VinZant, a senior analyst for LendingTree that researches how certain things might impact insurance rates.

In Minnesota, VinZant found there were 826 home births in 2018. There were 800 the next year, and in 2020, there were 926.

"People's main concerns [are] centered around getting COVID, not having their family with them and then being separated from the child," said VinZant.

Insurance doesn't always cover the cost of home births, but Folin says it allows people to bypass hospital rules, like taking a mandatory COVID test, wearing a mask in labor and having a limited number of visitors.

"They want to have whoever they want at their birth," said Folin.

She says there are plans in place to reach the nearest hospital, if there's a medical emergency, but she says those are rare. 

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