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LISTEN: Hippies, Home Birth and the History of Birthing Babies in Appalachia


On this week's episode, we’ll hear from a midwife who started delivering babies in the early 1970's. We find out what it’s like to deliver a baby at home. And we speak with one doctor about why she opposes home birth. We also visit a famous hippie commune in Appalachia that's said to be the birthplace of modern midwifery.

Home birth rates are particularly low in Appalachia. West Virginia has one of the lowest numbers of home birth rates in the country. Nationwide about 1 percent of births happen at home, according to the CDC.

But a growing number of women are turning away from hospital births, citing reasons like the desire to “control their birth experience,” avoid a cesarean, and find a provider who respects their wishes. Over the past four months, health reporter Kara Lofton visited some of the families choosing home birth in this region and talked to the midwives who serve them in Kentucky, Ohio, Virginia and West Virginia. In this detailed report she looks at both the controversy around home births and why some women are choosing this option despite legal obstacles.

This episode originally aired in April 2016.


Jessica can be heard on Inside Appalachia and West Virginia Morning the station’s daily radio news program. You can reach her at jlilly@wvpublic.org
Roxy Todd is a reporter and producer for Inside Appalachia and has been a reporter for West Virginia Public Broadcasting since 2014. She’s won several awards, including a regional AP Award for best feature radio story, and also two regional Edward R. Murrow awards. You can reach her at rtodd@wvpublic.org.