People Are Renting Airbnbs for Home Births—but Not Everybody Thinks It's a Good Idea

·4 min read

At one point, a long time ago (before you had Instagram) vacationing in a stranger's home may have seemed odd to you. Of course with the rise of Airbnb, this practice has been normalized and for many, is now preferable to a hotel booking. But what about giving birth at an Airbnb? Sure, home birth is an option many people consider, with the prevalence of this alternative to hospital delivery rising 19 percent during the pandemic according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Even before contracting COVID-19 at a hospital became a real fear for many pregnant people, going through one of the most empowering and life changing experiences on Earth in the comfort of your own home was desirable to a lot of folks. And it seems going through the miracle of birth in someone else's house is also a plan plenty of pregnant people are embracing these days as well.

Mel Magazine reports on a trend for parents-to-be who want to experience a home birth, but whose homes aren't exactly a fit for a variety of reasons, so an Airbnb birth makes a lot of sense. Consider those whose residences happen to be too far from a hospital to feel safe. Or how about if your space is too cramped to accommodate those cramps on steroids, AKA contractions? And while you can't yet search Airbnb for properties that make for good spots to give birth, you can select filters to search for private rooms with features like a step-free shower and a washer-dryer.

Pregnant African woman sleeping on sofa
Pregnant African woman sleeping on sofa

Getty Images/Andersen Ross Photography Inc

However, as the company's terms of service note, guests are expected to leave a property in the same condition they found it, which presents a potential challenge for the messy business of giving birth. You are also asked to indicate the reason for your stay, so giving up an element of your privacy may not be ideal.

But perhaps even more worthy of consideration for would-be birthers is how comfortable a host might be with the idea of someone pushing out a baby in their bathtub or on their sofa/bed/floor. As one Ireland-based host vented in an Airbnb community forum, upon the arrival of new guests, they "were completely overwhelmed by the fact that the lady was 38 weeks pregnant and had chosen our property with the idea of being closer to the maternity hospital." The host went on to share, "Not only are we not particularly close to the hospital, we are in no way prepared for any medical emergencies on that level, nor trained to aid in a potential home birth! I was gobsmacked to say the least that somebody would knowingly put us and, after all, themselves in such a situation." Finally, the host noted, "Of course we are always happy to help and are listed [as] family friendly but not in the sense that we feel comfortable taking on such a huge responsibility, without ever being asked in the first place."

Interestingly, while many commenters empathized with the poster, some were inspired by the share to consider catering to the needs of people looking for a place to give birth. And perhaps the market for the experience of home birth away from home is indeed growing, given that a quick search online yields several stories from people who have enjoyed an Airbnb home birth. As one woman shared on Mother.ly, her remote Florida Keys location prompted her to plan ahead and welcome her baby in a rental property. Everything went well and she enjoyed a magical experience. Meanwhile, another person took to Reddit to gauge whether renting an Airbnb for an upcoming home birth was doable, and commenters largely supported the idea.

Ultimately, home birth isn't for everyone. Airbnb birthing may be for even fewer people, but in the case that it works for you—and for the owner of the property—hey, it sure beats welcoming a baby in plenty of other places. Just sayin', as someone who almost had a baby on the side of the road while her husband stopped for Dunkin' Donuts en route to the hospital.