More Utah Women Choosing to Give Birth in Out-of-Hospital Settings

(Salt Lake City, UT) – A new report from the Utah Department of Health (UDOH) shows that from 2000 to 2015, planned home births increased by 46% and births at birth centers increased by nearly 340% in Utah. While the overall rate of planned out-of-hospital births is small, at 3.2% in 2015, Utah ranks in the top five states nationally for planned out-of-hospital births.

“In the early 1900s, almost all U.S. births happened outside of a hospital,” said Heather Bertotti Sarin, with UDOH and the Utah Women and Newborns Quality Collaborative. “Today, around 1.4% of U.S. births occur in an out-of-hospital setting. For the Central and Southwest areas of our state, we see about 5% of planned births occurring in a home or birth center.”

Findings from the report showed that women who planned out-of-hospital births compared with women who planned hospital births, were:

  • more likely to identify as White and non-Hispanic,
  • at a healthier weight prior to pregnancy,
  • less likely to smoke; and
  • women who had experienced five or more prior births.

“Despite these positive findings, e risks were identified. Women who planned out-of-hospital births were also more likely to initiate prenatal care late into their pregnancies, in the second or third trimesters. And some had obstetric risk factors such as multiple gestation or a history of cesarean section,” said Bertotti Sarin.

Approximately 6.6% of planned out-of-hospital birth attempts in Utah resulted in a transfer to a hospital facility.

“We acknowledge that women have the right to choose to deliver at home or in a birth center, and women are choosing this option more frequently. Our goal is to ensure that, when necessary, maternal or neonatal transfer to the hospital is as safe and seamless as possible. We want women and their families to get the best possible care, across birth settings, by creating tools that facilitate communication and interprofessional collaboration between out-of-hospital midwives and hospital staff,” said Dr. Erin Clark, a maternal-fetal medicine physician and chair of the Utah Women and Newborns Quality Collaborative, Out-of-Hospital Birth Committee.

The Utah Women and Newborns Quality Collaborative is a statewide, multi-stakeholder network dedicated to improving perinatal health in Utah. The collaborative was created in November 2013 and has since created the Utah Best Practice Guidelines: Transfer to Hospital from Planned Out-of-Hospital Birth to help hospital providers and midwives ensure the health and safety of women and their infants.

“The majority of women transferred to the hospital from a home or birth center have successful deliveries. We created the transfer guidelines to increase communication and safe hospital transfer for mothers and their newborns,” stated Bertotti Sarin.

To download a copy of the report, Planned Out-of-Hospital Births in Utah, 2013-2015, visit For more information about the Utah Women and Newborns Quality Collaborative, visit


Media Contact:
Heather Bertotti Sarin
(o) 801-273-2856
(m) 801-694-3409