Background: A home confinement with midwifery care is still an integral part of Dutch maternity care. It has been argued that the existence of home birth itself influences the course of the birth process positively, which is why obstetric interventions are low in comparison with neighboring countries. This study examined the impact of women's intended place of birth (home or hospital) and the course of pregnancy and labor when attended by midwives. Methods: This is a prospective study of 625 low-risk pregnant women, gestation 20 to 24 weeks, enrolled in 25 independently working midwifery practices. The course of labor was measured by the frequency of interventions by midwives and obstetricians. Results: Amore nontechnological approach to childbirth was observed within the women opting for a home birth compared with the women opting for a hospital birth. Data showed a relationship between interventions and planned birth site: sweeping membranes and amniotomy by midwives were more likely to be conducted in women opting for a home birth. Multiparas opting for hospital birth were more likely to experience consultations and referrals. Within the group of multiparas referred for obstetrician care, women intending to have a home birth experienced fewer interventions (e.g., induction, augmentation, pharmacologic pain relief, assisted delivery, cesarean section) compared with those who had opted for a hospital birth. Conclusions: A large proportion of women desire a home birth. The impact of that choice demonstrated a smoother course of the birth process, compared with women who desired to deliver in the hospital, as measured by fewer obstetric interventions. We suggest that psychological factors (expectation and perceptions) influence both a woman's decision of birthplace and the actual birth process.
- LOW-RISK PREGNANCIES