It is estimated that of the 4.1 million babies born in the U.S. in 2004, 7,000 were born at home without a midwife or doctor. Planned unassisted home-births, similar to those advocated by Ricki Lake in her The Business of Being Born documentary, are on the rise across the country, with women wanting the ability to control the birth process and have loved ones surrounding them during the birth. Many mamas-to-be believe those aspects outweigh the risks.
Until the 20th century, childbirth was the leading cause of death for women, with approximately 1 in 100 mothers dying in the early 1900s. Today, that rate is closer to 13 in 100,000, due to better prenatal care, medications and the option of cesarean sections when necessary.