Home birth or short-stay hospital birth in a low risk population in The Netherlands

Soc Sci Med. 1998 Jun;46(11):1505-11. doi: 10.1016/s0277-9536(98)00021-5.


In The Netherlands women with low risk pregnancies can choose whether they want to give birth at home or in hospital, under the care of their own primary caregiver. The majority of these women prefer to give birth at home, but over the last few decades an increasing number of low risk women have chosen a hospital birth, leaving hospital with their baby shortly after delivery. As both this trend and its effects have not been extensively investigated, a study was designed to examine the determinants of the choice for home or hospital birth. It was hypothesized that the choice would be determined by a combination of personal and social factors. Structural equation modelling indicated that social factors, especially the confidence of significant others in home birth and the expectations of hospital care during childbirth, were by far the strongest predictors of choice. Personal factors, measured as perceived health status before and during pregnancy, the existence of minor symptoms and fear of pain or complications during birth, were found to play an indirect role. Demographic variables such as age, education and urbanization showed no effect. These findings indicate that emphasizing the good results and excellent quality of Dutch maternity care at home is likely to support and strengthen the general acceptance of home birth.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Delivery, Obstetric*
  • Female
  • Health Status
  • Home Childbirth*
  • Humans
  • Length of Stay
  • Netherlands
  • Pregnancy
  • Prospective Studies
  • Social Support
  • Socioeconomic Factors