Publicly-funded home birth in Victoria, Australia: Exploring the views and experiences of midwives and doctors

Helen McLachlan, Heather McKay, Rhonda R. Powell, Rhonda Small, Mary Ann Davey, Fiona Cullinane, Michelle Newton, Della Forster

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Objective: to explore midwives' and doctors' views and experiences of publicly-funded homebirthing models. Design: cross-sectional survey implemented two years after the introduction of publicly-funded homebirthing models. Setting: two public hospitals in Victoria, Australia. Participants: midwives and doctors (obstetric medical staff). Main outcome measures: midwives' and doctors' views regarding reasons women choose home birth; and views and experiences of a publicly-funded home birth program, including intrapartum transfers. Findings: of the 44% (74/167) of midwives who responded to the survey, the majority (86%) supported the introduction of a publicly-funded home birth model, and most considered that there was consumer demand for the model (83%). Most thought the model was safe for women (77%) and infants (78%). These views were stronger amongst midwives who had experience working in the program (compared with those who had not). Of the 25% (12/48) of doctors who responded, views were mixed; just under half-supported the introduction of a publicly-funded home birth model, and one was unsure. Doctors also had mixed views about the safety of the model. One third agreed it was safe for women, one third were neutral and one third disagreed. Half did not believe the home birth model was safe for infants. The majority of midwives (93%) and doctors (75%) believed that intrapartum transfers from home to hospital were easier when the homebirthing midwife was a member of the hospital staff (as is the case with these models). Key conclusions and implications for practice: responding midwives were supportive of the introduction of publicly-funded home birth, whereas doctors had divergent views and some were concerned about safety. To ensure the success of such programs it is critical that all key stakeholders are engaged at the development and implementation stages as well as in the ongoing governance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)24-30
Number of pages7
JournalMidwifery
Volume35
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2016

Keywords

  • Home birth
  • Maternity care
  • Models of care
  • Place of birth

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