Women's views and experiences of publicly-funded homebirth programs in Victoria, Australia: A cross-sectional survey

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

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Background: It is critical women's voices are heard if there is to be more widespread implementation of midwifery-led continuity models. Publicly-funded homebirth is one such model, yet there has been limited systematic evaluation from the women's perspective. Aim: Examine women's experiences of and views about the two publicly-funded homebirth programs in Victoria, Australia. Methods: A cross-sectional design was used. All eligible women enrolled in the two pilot homebirth programs in metropolitan Melbourne whose infants were eight weeks of age or more during the evaluation period were invited to participate in a postal survey. A structured questionnaire was used, with some open-ended questions to enable extra comments. We explored women's reasons for choosing homebirth; views of care; experience of labour and birth; views on transfer; and overall experience of the homebirth program. Data were analysed using descriptive statistics. Simple thematic analysis was used for open-ended questions. Findings: The survey response rate was 71% (96/136). A high percentage of women rated their care as ‘Very good’: pregnancy 81%; labour and birth 90%; and the early postpartum period 83%. Women reported low levels of anxiety during labour and birth, were able to express their feelings, felt in control, and coped physically and emotionally better than they had expected. They felt well supported by midwives and overall reported very positive experiences of the homebirth programs. Conclusions: These two publicly-funded homebirth pilot programs demonstrated very positive care ratings by women. These findings, along with the clinical outcomes (reported separately), support the continuation and expansion of the program.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)221-230
Number of pages10
JournalWomen and Birth
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2019


  • Homebirth
  • Maternity/pregnancy care
  • Public care
  • Satisfaction
  • Women's views

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