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Systematic review of women's experiences of planning home birth in consultation with maternity care providers in middle to high-income countries

Gillen, Patricia; Bamidele, Olufikayo; Healy, Maria


Patricia Gillen

Maria Healy


Aim: To synthesise findings from published studies, which reported on women's experiences of planning a home birth in consultation with maternity care providers. Design: Systematic Review Data Sources: We searched seven bibliographic databases, (Ovid Medline, Embase, PsycInfo, CINAHL plus, Scopus, ProQuest and Cochrane (Central and Library), from January 2015 to 29th April 2022. Review Methods: Primary studies were included if they investigated women's experiences of planning a home birth with maternity care providers, in upper-middle and high-income countries and written in English language. Studies were analysed using thematic synthesis. GRADE-CERQual was used to assess the quality, coherence, adequacy and relevance of data. The protocol is registered on PROSPERO registration ID: CRD 42018095042 (updated 28th September 2020) and published. Results: 1274 articles were retrieved, and 410 duplicates removed. Following screening and quality appraisal, 20 eligible studies (19 qualitative and 1 survey) involving 2,145 women were included. Key Conclusions: Women's prior traumatic experience of hospital birth and a preference for physiological birth motivated their assertive decision to have a planned home birth despite criticisms and stigmatisation from their social circle and some maternity care providers. Midwives’ competence and support enhanced women's confidence and positive experiences of planning a home birth. Implications for practice: This review highlights the stigma that some women feel and the importance of support from health professionals, particularly midwives when planning a home birth. We recommend accessible evidence-based information for women and their families to support women's decision-making for planned home birth. The findings from this review can be used to inform woman-centred planned home birth services, particularly in the UK, (although evidence is drawn from papers in eight other countries, so findings are relevant elsewhere), which will impact positively on the experiences of women who are planning home birth.


Gillen, P., Bamidele, O., & Healy, M. (2023). Systematic review of women's experiences of planning home birth in consultation with maternity care providers in middle to high-income countries. Midwifery, 124, Article 103733.

Journal Article Type Review
Acceptance Date Mar 18, 2023
Online Publication Date May 25, 2023
Publication Date Sep 1, 2023
Deposit Date Jul 9, 2024
Publicly Available Date Jul 10, 2024
Journal Midwifery
Print ISSN 0266-6138
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 124
Article Number 103733
Keywords Systematic review; Planned home birth; Maternity care providers; Experiences; Literature review; Midwives
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