Ongoing Relationships With a Personal Focus: Mothers' Perceptions Of Birth Centre Versus Hospital Care

Document Type

Journal Article


Faculty of Computing, Health and Science


School of Nursing and Public Health




Coyle, K. L., Hauck, Y., Percival, P., & Kristjanson, L. J. (2001). Ongoing relationships with a personal focus: mothers' perceptions of birth centre versus hospital care. Midwifery, 17(3), 171-181. Available here


Objective: to describe women's perceptions of care in Western Australian birth centres following a previous hospital birth. Design, setting and participants: an exploratory study was undertaken to examine the care experiences of women from three Western Australian birth centres. Data were obtained from 17 women whose interviews were audio-recorded and transcribed. The research focused upon women's perceptions of their recent birth centre care as compared to previous hospital care during childbirth. Findings: four key themes emerged from the analysis: ‘beliefs about pregnancy and birth’, ‘nature of the care relationship’, ‘care interactions’ and ‘care structures’. The themes of ‘care interactions’ and ‘care structures’ will be presented in this paper. Care interactions refer to women's opportunities to develop rapport with their carers. Care structures involved the organisational framework in which care was delivered. The first two themes of ‘beliefs about pregnancy and birth’ and the ‘nature of the care relationship’ were discussed in a previous paper. Key conclusions and implications for practice: differences in opportunities for care interactions and care structures were revealed between birth centre and hospital settings. Ongoing, cumulative contacts with midwives in the birth-centre setting were strongly supported by women as encouraging the development of rapport and perception of ‘being known’ as an individual. Additionally, care structures tailored to women were advocated over the systematised, fragmented care found in hospital settings.




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