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

Patricia Gillen, Olufikayo Bamidele, Maria Healy

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
67 Downloads (Pure)


To synthesise findings from published studies, which reported on women's experiences of planning a home birth in consultation with maternity care providers. 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 29 April 2022. 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. 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. 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. 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. [Abstract copyright: Copyright © 2023 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier Ltd.. All rights reserved.]
Original languageEnglish
Article number103733
Pages (from-to)1-20
Number of pages21
Early online date25 May 2023
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 30 Sept 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The Southern Health and Social Care Trust HSC Research and Development Fund and matching funding from the Public Health Agency, Northern Ireland, Opportunity Led Research Fund .

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 The Author(s)


  • Maternity care providers
  • Midwives
  • Systematic review
  • Experiences
  • Planned home birth
  • Literature review


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