Jessa Duggar Didn’t Have Baby No. 3 In a Hospital. Why Do the Duggars Have Home Births?

The Duggar family just got a little bit bigger. Jessa Duggar and her husband Ben Seewald have welcomed baby No. 3. Ivy Jane Seewald was born on Sunday, May 26 at 5:57 p.m. and weighed 7 lbs, 4 oz.

The Seewalds are understandably thrilled with the latest addition to their family (they already have two boys, Spurgeon and Henry). “We’re so grateful to God for this precious gift. She is already so loved. Her big brothers adore her!” Jessa wrote in a blog post announcing Ivy’s birth.

Ivy Jane arrived early

Baby Ivy actually arrived a week and a half ahead of schedule. Jessa’s due date was June 5, and she suspected that she might go past her due date, since that is what happened with her two previous pregnancies. However, Ivy had other ideas.

“We were getting ready for church when my water broke, and we were thinking ‘Well, I guess we have a change of plans!” Jessa wrote.

“We were so surprised when she came two weeks earlier than her brothers,” she added. “We definitely weren’t expecting that!”

Jessa gave birth at home

Jessa Duggar, baby Spurgeon and her sisters
Jessa Seewald with baby Spurgeon and her sisters Jinger, Joy-Anna, and Jana. | Ida Mae Astute/ABC via Getty Images

Counting On fans know that the Duggar women often prefer to attempt to give birth at home.

For her third, Jessa decided to stick with the family tradition. Ivy was delivered at the Seewald family home after just 3½ hours of labor.

The short labor was a big change from Jessa’s first baby. In 2015, she was in labor for close to two days with Spurgeon. While she was ultimately able to deliver him at home, she was bleeding heavily after the birth and had to be rushed to the hospital, where she received a blood transfusion.

Despite the complications she experienced with Spurgeon, Jessa opted for another home birth with Henry. Fortunately, that one went smoothly and her labor was much shorter.

Why do the Duggars prefer home births?

Jessa is part of a nationwide trend toward home birth. The number of women choosing to have their children outside of the hospital has been on the rise in recent years. However, home births are still quite uncommon.

From 2004 to 2014, the share of out-of-hospital births rose from 1% to 1.5% of all U.S. births, according to a study by researchers at the University of Maryland in College Park. In 2014, there were 60,000 out of hospital births in the U.S., including 38,000 that took place at home. (Most of the others happened in a birth center.)  

Women have many reasons for choosing to avoid hospitals when having a baby. In the case of Jessa’s mom Michelle, she said she appreciated that delivering sixth child Jinger at home allowed her more control over the entire process.

“How different the home birth was! I was able to walk around, lean against the wall or counter, and move with the contractions rather than lying flat on my back in bed throughout labor,” she wrote in her book The Duggars: 20 and Counting!

Jessa apparently hoped for a similar experience to her mom’s. She also wanted to have a natural birth without painkillers, she explained to People after Spurgeon was born. However, she admitted that she had second thoughts about that decision midway through her labor.

“I said, ‘That’s it! I’m done! I am going to the hospital and I’m going to get an epidural,’” she told the magazine. “They asked me if I really wanted to do that and I said, ‘No, I don’t, but I do.’ I wanted to try natural if at all possible.”

Many Duggars do give birth in hospitals

Jessa’s scary experience giving birth to Spurgeon highlights some of the risks that can come with a home birth. And she’s hardly the only Duggar to face a difficult delivery. In fact, she’s somewhat unusual in that her home births have been successful.

Jessa’s big sister Jill labored at home for 20 hours with son Israel before heading to the hospital, where she was in labor for another 50 hours before she finally had a C-section. She tried a home birth again for baby No. 2, but he also arrived via C-section. Their sister Joy-Anna also wanted to have her baby at home, but she had to be rushed to the hospital for a C-section because her baby was breech.

Jinger — perhaps after seeing her sisters’ experience — opted to head straight to the hospital in Laredo when she went into labor with Felicity last year. Even mom Michelle, who praised her home birth experience, gave birth to all but two of her kids in a hospital.

Jessa is just the first of several Duggar women who will give birth this year. Her sisters-in-law Anna, Kendra, and Lauren are expecting, as is sister Joy-Anna. Whether they choose to have their babies at home or in a hospital remains to be seen, but whatever they decide, fans are hoping they all have safe deliveries and healthy babies!