Date of Award


Document Type



Edith Cowan University

Degree Name

Master of Nursing


School of Nursing


Faculty of Health and Human Sciences

First Supervisor

Yvonne Hauck

Second Supervisor

Dr Patricia Percival

Third Supervisor

Dr Linda Kristjanson


The purpose of this exploratory study was to describe women's perceptions of the care they received in a birth centre, compared to their previous experiences in a hospital. Australian statistics indicate that five percent of childbearing women now choose to receive care in a birth centre setting. Clinical outcomes of birth centre care are now well documented, but there is limited empirical data about women's experiences of this model of care. Seventeen women, who had recently given birth in a birth centre, and had previously experienced care in a hospital setting, were interviewed about their care experiences. Using content analysis, the primary patterns in the data were coded and categorised into the four key themes of : Beliefs about Pregnancy and Birth, Nature of the Care Relationship, Care Interactions and Care Structures. The underlying clinical issues were those relating to philosophies of care, control over childbirth, and continuity of carer. Women wanted carers who viewed birth as a natural process rather than as an illness, and who engaged in a sharing, rather than a controlling, relationship. Finally women preferred to know, and be known by their carers. These findings are important for midwives, in terms of their education and practice. They also have implications for hospital administrators, health planning agencies, and the medical profession.