- The term out‐of‐hospital has long been used as a kind of shorthand to refer collectively to births that occur in birth centers or at home. However, this term has also been a persistent cause of concern among health care providers who attend births in these settings, and researchers and midwives are increasingly adopting the term community birth instead to refer to planned home and birth center births. Some who resist the term out‐of‐hospital have argued that it reifies hospital birth as normative and community birth as other, marginal, or alternative. Here we propose community birth as a preferable term because it labels the practice for what it is—instead of for what it is not.
This argument is similar to those made by communities of color who have critiqued the use of nonwhite as a demographic category that elevates Euro‐Americans as the default race. Medical anthropologists have also compared the use of the term out‐of‐hospital to the tendency to call nonallopathic forms of healing complementary or alternative. Yet, many so‐called complementary and alternative medicine practitioners prefer to identify their forms of healing as holistic, integrative, or functional to indicate that modalities such as acupuncture, Ayurveda, chiropractic, and so on are autonomous approaches that may exist outside of, but are not subservient to or less than, allopathic and biomedical modalities. These health care providers, too, commonly choose to refer to their practice with terms that convey what it is, rather than what it is not, just as persons of color choose to be identified for who they are, not for who they are not.