The characteristics of women who birth at home, in a birth centre or in a hospital labour ward: A study of a nationally-representative sample of 1835 pregnant women

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare, 2015, 6 (3), pp. 132 - 137
Issue Date:
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© 2015 Elsevier B.V. Objectives: A woman's choice of birth setting can depend on a variety of factors including her preference, availability of services and legislative environment. However, examination of the characteristics of women in relation to their birth environment has been limited in scope and design. This study presents the comparative characteristics of women who birth at home, in a birth centre or in a standard hospital setting. Methods: Cross-sectional survey of women (n = 2445) identified as pregnant or recently given birth in the 2009 survey of the "young" cohort (n = 8012) from the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women's Health. Results: Women's birth setting was associated with a variety of factors including employment status, private health insurance, attitudes towards obstetric care, health status, use of intrapartum pain management, and adverse birth events. Conclusion: Women's choice of birth setting may be affected by factors such as government and institutional policy, personal values, and economic situation. The confluence of these factors for individual women can impact on the birth settings available to women and the corresponding choices they make. A clear understanding of these factors is important to ensure women access the most appropriate birth environment to achieve the best maternal and foetal health outcomes.
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