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Home Birth After Hospital Birth: Women's Choices and Reflections


  • Casey Bernhard BSN,

  • Ruth Zielinski CNM, PhD,

    Corresponding author
    • Address correspondence to Ruth Zielinski, CNM, PhD, University of Michigan School of Nursing, 400 N Ingalls, Ann Arbor, MI 48109-5482. E-mail:

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  • Kelly Ackerson PhD, RN, WHNP-BC,

  • Jessica English MA, CD, LCCE



The number of US women choosing home birth is increasing. Little is known about women who choose home birth after having experienced hospital birth; therefore, the purpose of this research was to explore reasons why these women choose home birth and their perceptions regarding their birth experiences.


Qualitative description was the research design, whereby focus groups were conducted with women who had hospital births and subsequently chose home birth. Five focus groups were conducted (N = 20), recorded, and transcribed verbatim. Qualitative content analysis was undertaken allowing themes to emerge.


Five themes emerged from the women's narratives: 1) choices and empowerment: with home birth, women felt they were given real choices rather than perceived choices, giving them feelings of empowerment; 2) interventions and interruptions: women believed things were done that were not helpful to the birth process, and there were interruptions associated with their hospital births; 3) disrespect and dismissal: participants believed that during hospital birth, providers were more focused on the laboring woman's uterus, with some experiencing dismissal from their hospital provider when choosing to birth at home; 4) birth space: giving birth in their own home, surrounded by people they chose, created a peaceful and calm environment; and 5) connection: women felt connected to their providers, families, newborns, and bodies during their home birth.


For most participants, dissatisfaction with hospital birth influenced their subsequent decision to choose home birth. Despite experiencing challenges associated with this decision, women expressed satisfaction with their home birth.