Women's experiences of planning a home birth with maternity care providers in middle- to high-income countries: a systematic review protocol

Maria Healy, Olufikayo Bamidele, Patricia Gillen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
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Background: A woman’s choice of birthplace does not only influence her birth experience, but also impacts on maternal and neonatal outcomes. For healthy women who have had a straightforward pregnancy, a planned home birth supported by midwives and other maternity care providers, is now a recognised choice within many individual countries’
health care systems. However, there is limited evidence on women’s actual experiences of engaging with maternity care providers to plan for a home birth, especially within the
context of middle- to high-income countries where there is integration of maternity care services. Therefore, this systematic review will synthesise findings from previous studies, which have reported on women’s experiences of planning a home birth in consultation with maternity care providers, in middle- to high-income countries. We anticipate that primarily qualitative studies will be located, as the focus of the review is on experiences of women.
Methods: Using a systematic approach, we will develop a search strategy to identify relevant research studies on women’s experiences of planning a home birth, with the
support of their maternity care providers. Search terms will be iteratively developed using text words derived from the review aim,
database-indexed terms and the Population, Intervention, Comparison and Outcome (PICO) framework:

• Population: women who planned or are planning a home birth within the context of a middle or high-income country
• Intervention: planning home birth with maternity care providers
• Comparison: none applicable
• Outcome: experiences.
Searches will be undertaken on seven bibliographic databases: MEDLINE, Embase, PsycInfo, CINAHL Plus, Scopus, ProQuest and Cochrane (Central and Library).
Supplementary searches will also be undertaken to identify additional articles, including grey literature. At least two reviewers will do the screening, quality appraisal, data
extraction and analysis. Included studies will be appraised using a quality appraisal tool suited to the study design. Data will be analysed depending on the methodological design of the studies included (that is, if all qualitative studies are included a thematic synthesis will be undertaken).
Expected outcome: Review findings will provide useful recommendations to improve care and support provided for women when planning a home birth. We will publish review
findings in a peer-reviewed journal and present it at relevant conferences while also sharing summaries with maternity care providers and service users via social media fora.
Systematic review registration: PROSPERO CRD42018095042 (updated 28 September 2020).
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5-12
Number of pages8
JournalEvidence Based Midwifery
Issue number4
Early online date27 Aug 2021
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 1 Dec 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding sources:
The Southern Health and Social Care Trust HSC Research and Development Fund and matched funding from Public Health Agency HSC Northern Ireland, Opportunity-led Research. Ulster University's Institute of Nursing and Health Research funded access to Covidence, which is Cochrane's web-based software platform, which improves the efficiency of producing systematic reviews.
The funders were not involved in collection, analysis and interpretation of the data.


  • home birth
  • women
  • planned
  • childbirth
  • maternity care provider
  • experiences
  • evidence based midwifery


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