Home birth after hospital birth: women's choices and reflections

J Midwifery Womens Health. Mar-Apr 2014;59(2):160-6. doi: 10.1111/jmwh.12113. Epub 2014 Mar 10.


Introduction: The number of US women choosing home birth is increasing. Little is known about women who choose home birth after having experienced hospital birth; therefore, the purpose of this research was to explore reasons why these women choose home birth and their perceptions regarding their birth experiences.

Methods: Qualitative description was the research design, whereby focus groups were conducted with women who had hospital births and subsequently chose home birth. Five focus groups were conducted (N = 20), recorded, and transcribed verbatim. Qualitative content analysis was undertaken allowing themes to emerge.

Results: Five themes emerged from the women's narratives: 1) choices and empowerment: with home birth, women felt they were given real choices rather than perceived choices, giving them feelings of empowerment; 2) interventions and interruptions: women believed things were done that were not helpful to the birth process, and there were interruptions associated with their hospital births; 3) disrespect and dismissal: participants believed that during hospital birth, providers were more focused on the laboring woman's uterus, with some experiencing dismissal from their hospital provider when choosing to birth at home; 4) birth space: giving birth in their own home, surrounded by people they chose, created a peaceful and calm environment; and 5) connection: women felt connected to their providers, families, newborns, and bodies during their home birth.

Discussion: For most participants, dissatisfaction with hospital birth influenced their subsequent decision to choose home birth. Despite experiencing challenges associated with this decision, women expressed satisfaction with their home birth.

Keywords: United States; birth; home birth; qualitative description; satisfaction.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attitude to Health*
  • Choice Behavior*
  • Decision Making
  • Delivery, Obstetric*
  • Female
  • Focus Groups
  • Home Childbirth*
  • Hospitals*
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Midwifery*
  • Motivation
  • Patient Satisfaction*
  • Physician-Patient Relations
  • Pregnancy
  • Social Support
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Women
  • Young Adult