Staying Home to Give Birth: Why Women in the United States Choose Home Birth


  • Debora Boucher CNM,

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    • Debora Boucher, CNM, graduated in 2008 from the Nurse-Midwifery program at the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Nursing and is currently practicing as a midwife in Libertyville, IL.

  • Catherine Bennett RNC, BSN,

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    • Catherine Bennett, RNC, BSN, is a graduate student in the Perinatal Clinical Specialist program at the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Nursing, Chicago, IL.

  • Barbara McFarlin CNM, PhD, RDMS,

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    • Barbara McFarlin, CNM, PhD, RDMS, is a Research Assistant Professor in the Department of Maternal Child Nursing at the University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, IL.

  • Rixa Freeze PhD, MA

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    • Rixa Freeze, PhD, MA, recently completed her PhD in American Studies with emphasis in childbirth and maternity care at the University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa.

Debora Boucher, CNM, 133 E. Sunnyside Ave., Libertyville, IL 60048. E-mail:


Approximately 1% of American women give birth at home and face substantial obstacles when they make this choice. This study describes the reasons that women in the United States choose home birth. A qualitative descriptive secondary analysis was conducted in a previously collected dataset obtained via an online survey. The sample consisted of 160 women who were US residents and planned a home birth at least once. Content analysis was used to study the responses from women to one essay question: “Why did you choose home birth?” Women who participated in the study were mostly married (91%) and white (87%). The majority (62%) had a college education. Our analysis revealed 508 separate statements about why these women chose home birth. Responses were coded and categorized into 26 common themes. The most common reasons given for wanting to birth at home were: 1) safety (n = 38); 2) avoidance of unnecessary medical interventions common in hospital births (n = 38); 3) previous negative hospital experience (n = 37); 4) more control (n = 35); and 5) comfortable, familiar environment (n = 30). Another dominant theme was women's trust in the birth process (n = 25). Women equated medical intervention with reduced safety and trusted their bodies'inherent ability to give birth without interference.