The choice of birthplace may have an important impact on a woman's health. In this longitudinal study, we investigated the psychopathological risk factors that drive women's choice of birthplace, since their influence is currently not well understood. The research was conducted in 2011/12 and we analyzed data of 177 women (obstetric unit, n = 121; free standing midwifery unit, n = 42; homebirth, n = 14). We focused antepartally (M = 34.3 ± 3.3) on sociodemographic and risk factors of psychopathology, such as prenatal distress (Prenatal Distress Questionnaire), depressiveness (Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale), birth anxiety (Birth Anxiety Scale), childhood trauma (Childhood Trauma Questionnaire), and postpartally (M = 6.65 ± 2.6) on birth experience (Salmon's Item List), as well as psychological adaption, such as postpartum depressive symptoms (Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale) and birth anxiety felt during birth (modified Birth Anxiety Scale). Women with fear of childbirth and the beginning of birth were likely to plan a hospital birth. In contrast, women with fear of touching and palpation by doctors and midwives, as well as women with childhood trauma, were more likely to plan an out-of-hospital birth. Furthermore, women with planned out-of-hospital births experienced a greater relief of their birth anxiety during the birth process than women with planned hospital birth. Our results especially show that women with previous mental illnesses, as well as traumatic experiences, seem to have special needs during childbirth, such as a safe environment and supportive care.
Keywords: birth anxiety; birth center; birth experience; birthplace; experience of violence; homebirth; mental health; postpartum psychological adaption; pregnancy; trauma.