Home Births and Midwives on the Rise in Oklahoma

Home births and midwives continue to nab more and more national attention. This trend is getting notice in Oklahoma, as well.

Home births and midwives continue to nab more and more national attention. This trend is getting notice in Oklahoma, as well. Channel 8 followed a couple planning their first home birth and the midwife helping them along the way.

Faith Morie underwent three and a half years of training to become a midwife. She oversees clients' prenatal care and helps women birth at home the way they want to.

"What I seek to do as a midwife is to let them choose what kind of experience they want within a safe boundary," said Morie. She agreed that there seems to be a growing interest in natural and home births. She attributes some of that to documentaries like, "The Business of Being Born."

The Centers for Disease Control report that from 2004 to 2009, home births in America have increased 29 percent. However, the total number of home births each year is less than one percent.

Morie estimated that the average hospital birth in Oklahoma might cost between $5-7,000. She estimated the average cost of a midwife in Oklahoma between $2-3,500. However, home births with midwives can be harder to get insured.

"It's really grown here in Oklahoma," said Morie. "We've gone from having maybe three or four home birth midwives in the whole state to now having about ten, and everybody's super busy and has plenty of business."

Morie and most midwives encourage mothers to take control over their birth plan. Rather than birthing on their backs in a hospital bed, mothers are encouraged to move around and try different birthing positions to help the baby progress in labor.

Morie said doctors at hospitals often are not able to exercise as much choice in selecting their clients as midwives are, but she said many people still refer to the number of hospital interventions resembling a sort of "domino effect" or "cascade" that can sometimes further complications.

Morie encourages her mothers to keep a natural, healthy diet and exercise regularly. She meets with her clients frequently for check-ups and classes.

Morie carries emergency equipment and is trained in recessitation and other procedures, however at least for one local OBGYN, that is not enough.

Dr. Michael Gardner is the chair of the Obstetrics and Gynecology Department for OU-Tulsa. He also oversees the nurse midwifery program there. He said he is very pro-nurse midwifery. Nurse midwives have advanced nursing degrees and often practice in facilities attached to hospitals. He told Channel 8 there is a small but real increase in both mother and infant mortalities in planned home births compared to hospital births.

"Someone who didn't do that is someone who, in my mind, does not have adequate credentials to be taking care of pregnancies," said Dr. Gardner. "Obviously the state disagrees with me, because they allow this person to practice. I would suggest that that's a mistake on the state's part. Many states would not allow this person to practice."

Dr. Gardner said he has no problem with parents preparing birth plans or preferring to birth naturally, but he said birthing away from a hospital is still a major risk.

"If your baby dies or if your baby's permanently damaged, or if mom dies, you know, where you did the delivery isn't going to make you feel any better," said Dr. Gardner.

Heather and Josh Jackson were pregnant with their fourth child when they met with Channel 8. Each of their previous births has been progressively more natural. One of their sons was induced around 38 weeks because their OBGYN was leaving on vacation. Their daughter was born naturally in a hospital, overseen by a nurse midwife.

Heather birthed their youngest son Caleb under Morie's care at home and recalled the experience as "empowering." Click on the video above to watch their journey.