The first time Chalise Watson gave birth at home in Taylor, Arizona, she labored for more than 40 hours and pushed for four hours. “It was not a happy experience,” she remembers. Though her baby boy was a robust nine pounds, she had no complications with the birthing process — but she wanted her second experience to be different.

It definitely was. Labor with her second child lasted just 12 hours, partly because she used hypnobirthing techniques. “I would dance in the shower; I would sing. It was beautiful. It was so free, and I could feel where my baby was at all times. I felt such a connection with what was going on,” she told LifeZette. When the time came for her to push, she just “breathed that baby down.”

Out-of-hospital births have risen from 0.87 percent in 2004 to 1.36 percent 2012.

“Easy” as that.

Watson relied on the counsel of her midwife through her pregnancy and birth. Ever since having an unexplained and ongoing sickness when she was younger, she’d developed a distrust of doctors. When they eventually told her the only option was to go on constant medication — and after several of her friends committed suicide because of medication — she decided to try a more natural route, focused on diet and lifestyle.

“I don’t have to go to a doctor to be able to take care of me or my family,” she said. “I have the tools I need. I have the brain to figure things out. Ever since then, I’ve been taking care of my family.”

Watson is among those who favor autonomy and homeopathic remedies instead of modern medical practices. Though still rare, out-of-hospital births have risen from 0.87 percent in 2004 to 1.36 percent in 2012.

Related: Birth Process for Moms: Location is Key

Many people feel cynical about doctors. Some patients say they couldn’t get enough information from their OBGYN, or that they felt doctors were hiding something from them. In a survey by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, 40 percent of OBGYNs said they feared discussing birth defects or pregnancy complications because of malpractice suits.

[lz_bulleted_list title=”Hospitals with Highest C-Section Rates” source=””]South Miami Hospital, FL|Hackensack University Medical Center, NJ|Covenant Medical Center, TX|Woman’s Hospital of Texas, TX|Palmetto General Hospital, FL|Researchers estimate almost half the cesareans in U.S. could have been safe vaginal deliveries[/lz_bulleted_list]

So some women turn to herbal supplements or over-the-counter medications that they assume are safe for their baby. Herbal supplements are especially suspect: They’re not regulated by the FDA, as prescription drugs are. Manufacturers often include ingredients that aren’t listed on the label; they make claims about the benefits of herbal remedies that are scientifically unfounded.

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However — and this is a big “but” — an increasing distrust of doctors can have devastating effects. A study published last December in the New England Journal of Medicine reviewed 79,727 births in 2012 and 2013. It excluded multiple births, babies born with defects, and pregnancies with risk factors such as diabetes. Researchers found that babies who were born outside of the hospital were 2.5 times more likely to die during birth or in the first month of life. They were also at higher risk of neonatal seizures, and the mothers had an increased risk for receiving blood transfusions.

But women who chose at-home births were also less likely to receive extreme medical interventions during labor and delivery, such as a cesarean section or episiotomy.

Babies who were born outside of the hospital were 2.5 times more likely to die during birth or in the first month of life.

C-sections have come under increasing scrutiny, as more and more women want to avoid the difficult recovery process of a surgical birth. Still, they remain an important life-saving procedure.

For Caitlin Gilman, a first-time mother in Boston, Massachusetts, C-sections were a last resort. She believed that because she kept a healthy lifestyle — including eating a gluten-free, vegan diet — she wouldn’t need extensive medical interventions to give birth. “I didn’t have anything against modern medicine,” she said. “If anything happened, I’d want to be in the care of a doctor. I just felt like I didn’t need it.”

Gilman planned to check in at the birthing center at Newton-Wellsley hospital, where she would be attended primarily by midwives. She went into labor on a Sunday, but she struggled to progress. She had practiced hypnobirthing techniques and tried relaxing in water baths, but after three full days in labor, her cervix still had not dilated completely.

Related: Oh, Baby! Four Childbirth Trends You Must Know

And her midwife was unable to properly coach her through the process. “What really frustrated me was that she wouldn’t tell me why I wasn’t progressing. She would just say, ‘Oh, you’re not doing it. You’re not trying hard enough.’ Mentally that was really tough.”

Gilman asked questions about her labor; her midwife only gave her vague answers. So she was forced to make decisions without adequate information about why her labor had become so complicated. Only later did she learn her son had turned and was stuck against her hip bone. He subsequently developed radial palsy that took three months to heal.

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In the end, her baby’s heart rate dropped and doctors had to perform an emergency C-section — after she was nearly fully dilated. But once they made that decision, she felt relieved. “It was the first time someone with authority gave me definitive advice,” she said.

There was a catch, however: The anesthesia for the C-section didn’t work completely, and Gilman could feel the scalpel cutting through her skin and deep tissue. She passed out from the pain and didn’t witness the moment her boy, Gray, was born. “Honestly, the whole experience, not seeing Gray born, was the hardest part for me. I struggled a lot with that,” she said.

Related: A Baby Born Today Could Have It All

In the end, however, she’s grateful a trained and competent medical team was on hand.

“As someone who was totally on board with [home birth], I feel it’s irresponsible to be so flippant about the need for doctors and hospitals. They’re there to save your life.”