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      St. Louis-area hospital to offer midwife option

      A report released last month by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said home births have risen to their highest level in decades.

      The St. Louis-area's leading hospital for delivering babies will soon offer an option for midwife-led births, part of a growing trend as more women seek natural childbirth.

      Mercy Hospital St. Louis said Thursday that patients are being accepted at its Mercy Birthing Center, which opens in September. Mercy says it will give women the option of a birth without medical intervention, overseen by a midwife, but with medical personnel nearby if needed.

      The center will feature four birthing suites that resemble a home bedroom, with queen-sized beds, showers and large tubs for labor.

      A report released last month by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said home births have risen to their highest level in about four decades, though they are still only a fraction of all births.