It's officially April, which means that both pollen and yet more Meghan Markle baby rumours are swirling through the air. According to the Daily Mail's royal correspondent, Rebecca English, Markle is reportedly considering having a home birth at Frogmore Cottage, where she lives with Prince Harry. The Duchess of Sussex allegedly told sources that she doesn't want the Queen's doctors to be involved in her birthing plan, nor does she want the "goldfish bowl" experience of delivering at the famous Lindo Wing.
Traditionally, members of the royal family have delivered babies at the Lindo Wing at St. Mary's Hospital Paddington, although the Queen gave birth to all of her kids at home, aka Buckingham Palace. The Lindo Wing is what the Brits would call "posh," because it provides high-end medical amenities and privacy for pregnant A-listers. Everyone from Kate and Pippa Middleton to Amal Clooney and Princess Diana have had their babies there, and fans often wait outside the entrance for days before a baby arrives to catch a glimpse.
While Frogmore Cottage is undoubtedly super nice, home births are not for everyone, simply because they can be risky. According to the American Congress on Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG), home births are associated with an increased risk of perinatal death and neonatal seizures, and it's harder for necessary and life-saving medical interventions if needed. For these reasons, the ACOG's stance is that "hospitals and accredited birthing centres are the safest setting for birth, [but] each woman has the right to make a medically informed decision about delivery." The organisation also suggests that a certified nurse midwife or physician should be present for a planned home birth, and there should be a plan to get to a nearby hospital in a timely manner in case of emergency.
People who are adamant about having a home birth should really be educated about these risks, according to the ACOG. The ideal candidate for a home birth would be someone whose pregnancy is considered "low risk," meaning they don't have any health complications. While we don't know much about Markle's health status, we do know that there tend to be more health risks associated with pregnancies over age 35, such as gestational diabetes, premature delivery, and high blood pressure.
Even though the risks of a home birth seem to outweigh the benefits, lots of people choose them because they want to labor without drugs or medical interventions, or prefer a home setting over a clinical hospital, according to the Mayo Clinic. In February, Markle reportedly started hypnobirthing classes and hired a doula, which could be clues about her more "natural" birthing preferences. In the United Kingdom, home births seem to be slightly more popular than in the States; in England and Wales, over 1 in 50 pregnant women give birth at home. In the United States, approximately 0.9% of births per year happen at home, and a quarter of those home births are unplanned.