Research Article| Volume 26, ISSUE 1, P55-59, March 2013

The commonalities and differences in health professionals’ views on home birth in Tasmania, Australia: A qualitative study



      Home birth has attracted great controversy in the current context. There is a need for the public and health professionals to understand why maternity care providers have such different views on home birth, why they debate, what divides them into two opposite sides and if they have anything in common.


      A qualitative study involving twenty maternity health providers in Tasmania was conducted. It used semi-structured interview which included closed and open-ended questions to provide opportunities for exploring emerging insights from the voices of the participants.


      Health practitioners who support home birth do so for three reasons. Firstly, women have the right to choose the place of birth. Secondly, home birth may be more cost effective compared to hospital birth. Thirdly, if home birth is not supported, some women might choose to have a free birth. Those who opposed home birth argue that complications could occur at childbirth and the transfer time is critical for women's and babies’ safety. These differences in opinions can be due to the differences in the training and philosophy of the maternity care providers. Despite the differing views on home births, health professionals share a common goal to protect the women and the newborns from unexpected situations during childbirth.


      This article provides some significant insights derived from the study of home birth from the maternity health professionals’ perspectives and could contribute to the enhancement of mutual understanding and collaboration of health professionals in their services to expectant mothers.


      To read this article in full you will need to make a payment

      Purchase one-time access:

      Academic & Personal: 24 hour online accessCorporate R&D Professionals: 24 hour online access
      One-time access price info
      • For academic or personal research use, select 'Academic and Personal'
      • For corporate R&D use, select 'Corporate R&D Professionals'


      Subscribe to Women and Birth
      Already a print subscriber? Claim online access
      Already an online subscriber? Sign in
      Institutional Access: Sign in to ScienceDirect


        • Dahlen H.
        • Jackson M.
        • Stevens J.
        Homebirth, freebirth and doulas: casualty and consequences of a broken maternity system.
        Women Birth. 2011; 24: 47-50
        • Keirse M.
        Home birth: gone away, gone astray, and here to stay.
        Birth. 2010; 37: 341-346
        • Department of Health Ageing
        Improving maternity services in Australia: report of the maternity services review.
        Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing, 2009
        • Crotty M.
        • Ramsay A.
        • Smart R.
        • Chan A.
        Planned homebirths in South Australia 1976–1987.
        Med J Aust. 1990; 153: 664-671
        • Bastian H.
        • Keirse M.
        • Lancaster P.
        Perinatal death associated with planned home birth in Australia: population based study.
        BMJ. 1998; 317: 384-388
        • Kennare R.
        • Keirse M.
        • Tucker G.
        • Chan A.
        Planned home and hospital births in South Australia, 1991–2006: differences in outcomes.
        MJA. 2009; 192
        • Woodcock H.C.
        • Read A.W.
        • Bower C.
        • Stanley F.J.
        • Moore D.J.
        A matched cohort study of planned home and hospital births in Western Australia 1981–1987.
        Midwifery. 1994; 10: 125-135
        • Anderson R.
        • Murphy P.
        Outcomes of 11,788 planned home births attended by certified nurse-midwives. A retrospective descriptive study.
        J Nurse Midwifery. 1995; 40: 483-492
        • Chamberlain G.
        • Wraight A.
        • Crowley P.
        Birth at home.
        Pract Midwife. 1999; 2
        • Wiegers T.
        • Kierse M.
        • van der Zee J.
        • Berghs G.
        Outcome of planned home and planned hospital births in low risk pregnancies: prospective study in midwifery practices in the Netherlands.
        BMJ. 1996; 313: 1309-1313
        • Gulbransen G.
        • Hilton J.
        • McKay L.
        • Cox A.
        Home birth in New Zealand 1973–93: incidence and mortality.
        N Z Med J. 1997; 110: 87-89
        • Janssen P.
        • Saxell L.
        • Page L.
        • Klein M.
        • Liston R.
        • Lee S.
        Outcomes of planned home birth with registered midwife versus planned hospital birth with midwife or physician.
        CMAJ. 2009; 181: 377-383
        • Hendrix M.
        • Van Horck M.
        • Moreta D.
        • Nieman F.
        • Nieuwenhuijze M.
        • Severens J.
        • et al.
        Why women do not accept randomisation for place of birth: feasibility of a RCT in the Netherlands.
        BJOG: Int J Obstet Gynaecol. 2009; 116: 537-544
        • Dowswell T.
        • Thornton J.
        • Hewison J.
        • Lilford R.
        • Raisler J.
        • Macfarlane A.
        • et al.
        Should there be a trial of home versus hospital delivery in the United Kingdom?.
        BMJ. 1996; 312: 753-757
        • Wax J.
        • Lucas F.
        • Lamont M.
        • Pinette M.
        • Cartin A.
        • Blackstone J.
        Maternal and newborn outcomes in planned home birth vs planned hospital births: a metaanalysis.
        Am J Obstet Gynecol Surv. 2010; 203: e1-e8
      1. Simkins G. RE: Maternal and newborn outcomes in planned home birth vs. planned hospital births: a meta-analysis; 2010. Available from: http://manaorg/pdfs/MANA-Response-AJOG-Article-7-6-2010.pdf.

      2. Michal C, Janssen P, Vedam S, Hutton E, Jonge A. Planned home vs hospital birth: a meta-analysis gone wrong. Medscape Ob/Gyn & Women's Health; 2011.

        • Raisler J.
        Evidence from US suggests that trials will not alter obstetric behaviour.
        BMJ. 1996; 312: 753-757
        • Strauss A.
        • Corbin J.
        Basics of qualitative research: techniques and procedures for developing grounded theory.
        Sage, Newbury Park, CA1990
        • Department of Health
        Policy for planned birth at home in South Australia.
        Government of South Australia, Adelaide2007
        • Pesce A.F.
        Planned home birth in Australia: politics or science?.
        MJA. 2010; 192: 60-61
        • Spitzer M.
        Birth centers economy, safety and empowerment.
        J Nurse Midwifery. 1995; 40: 371-375
        • Anderson R.
        • Anderson D.
        The cost-effectiveness of home birth.
        J Nurse Midwifery. 1999; 44: 30-35
        • Henderson J.
        • Mugford M.
        An economic evaluation of home births.
        in: Chamberlain G. Wraight A. Crowley P. Home births: the report of the 1994 confidential enquiry by the National Birthday Trust Fund. Parthenon, London, UK1997: 191-211
        • Högberg U.
        • Wall S.
        • Wiklund D.-E.
        Risk determinants of perinatal mortality in a Swedish County, 1980–1984.
        Acta Obstet Gynecol Scand. 1990; 69: 575-579
        • Griew K.
        Birth centre midwifery down under.
        in: Kirkham M. Birth centres a social model for maternity care. Elsevier, London2003: 209-222