Congrats to Meghan Markle and Prince Harry on the birth of their first child, a son, 7-pound, 3-ounce Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor.
Prince Harry told reporters on Monday that the early morning birth went well. He said he feels “over the moon,” is “so incredibly proud of my wife.”
What Prince Harry didn’t say was whether the Duchess of Sussex gave birth in a hospital or at their home, Frogmore Cottage. Some media outlets speculated that it was a home birth because the Royal Family’s announcement mentioned the couple’s home.
Rumors have swirled about Markle’s intended birth location, partly because of the ongoing debate over the risks of home births. That debate goes hand-in-hand with angst over the growing trend of women having babies at an “advanced maternal age,” meaning over age 35. At 37, Markle is past that threshold.
In the U.S., fewer than 1 percent of births now occur at home, about 30,000 a year, according to federal data. However, home births have been inching up since 2004, and a handful of states — including Pennsylvania, Montana and Idaho — have higher than average rates.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologistsys women choosing home birth should be informed that, while it involves minimal medical intervention, it has a twofold increased risk of newborn death. The infant is also more likely to suffer seizures or neurological problems than babies born in hospitals.
But one of the studies behind that alarming overview was criticized as flawed when it came out in 2013.
In England, as well as Canada and Denmark, the most recent studies have not found that home births result in worse outcomes than hospital births for low-risk women — those without complications such as high blood pressure, heart disease or multiple gestation.
In November, Vanity Fair reported that Markle was considering an in-home birth, in a departure from tradition. Her sister-in-law Kate Middleton, for example, delivered at the Lindo Wing in St. Mary’s Hospital.
“Meg wants a natural birth if she can have one. Her mother is very into anything that is holistic and natural … It’s all very much of Meghan’s birth plan,” Vanity Fair quoted a source.
Whatever that plan entailed, bravo to Markle for taking control. As ACOG says, “Each woman has the right to make a medically informed decision about delivery.”