Transfer from planned home birth to hospital: improving interprofessional collaboration

J Midwifery Womens Health. 2014 Nov-Dec;59(6):624-634. doi: 10.1111/jmwh.12251.


Women's heightened interest in choice of birthplace and increased rates of planned home birth in the United States have been well documented, yet there remains significant public and professional debate about the ethics of planned home birth in jurisdictions where care is not clearly integrated across birth settings. Simultaneously, the quality of interprofessional interactions is recognized as a predictor of health outcomes during obstetric events. When care is transferred across birth settings, confusion and conflict among providers with respect to roles and responsibilities can adversely affect both outcomes and the experience of care for women and newborns. This article reviews findings of recent North American studies that examine provider attitudes toward planned home birth, differing concepts of safety of birthplace as reported by women and providers, and sources of conflict among maternity care providers during transfer from home to hospital. Emerging evidence and clinical exemplars can inform the development of systems for seamless transfer of women and newborns from planned home births to hospital and improve experience and perceptions of safety among families and providers. Three successful models in the United States that have enhanced multidisciplinary cooperation and coordination of care across birth settings are described. Finally, best practice guidelines for roles, communication, and mutual accommodation among all participating providers when transfer occurs are introduced. Research, health professional education, and policy recommendations for incorporation of key components into existing health care systems in the United States are included.

Keywords: communication; home childbirth; interprofessional collaboration; interprofessional education; quality improvement; safety; transfer.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Cooperative Behavior*
  • Delivery, Obstetric*
  • Female
  • Home Childbirth*
  • Hospitalization*
  • Hospitals
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Interprofessional Relations*
  • Midwifery*
  • Obstetric Labor Complications
  • Pregnancy
  • United States