Staying home to give birth: why women in the United States choose home birth

J Midwifery Womens Health. 2009 Mar-Apr;54(2):119-26. doi: 10.1016/j.jmwh.2008.09.006.


Approximately 1% of American women give birth at home and face substantial obstacles when they make this choice. This study describes the reasons that women in the United States choose home birth. A qualitative descriptive secondary analysis was conducted in a previously collected dataset obtained via an online survey. The sample consisted of 160 women who were US residents and planned a home birth at least once. Content analysis was used to study the responses from women to one essay question: "Why did you choose home birth?" Women who participated in the study were mostly married (91%) and white (87%). The majority (62%) had a college education. Our analysis revealed 508 separate statements about why these women chose home birth. Responses were coded and categorized into 26 common themes. The most common reasons given for wanting to birth at home were: 1) safety (n = 38); 2) avoidance of unnecessary medical interventions common in hospital births (n = 38); 3) previous negative hospital experience (n = 37); 4) more control (n = 35); and 5) comfortable, familiar environment (n = 30). Another dominant theme was women's trust in the birth process (n = 25). Women equated medical intervention with reduced safety and trusted their bodies' inherent ability to give birth without interference.

MeSH terms

  • Data Collection
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Home Childbirth / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Pregnancy
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United States