Date of Award


Document Type



Edith Cowan University

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts Honours


Faculty of Community Services, Education and Social Sciences

First Supervisor

Dr Elizabeth Kaczmarek


Childbirth literature was explored firstly to gain a historical understanding of childbirth practices over the last century and secondly to explore the influences that determine a woman's birth choice. A shift from midwife-based care to medical-based care has resulted in the majority of births occurring in hospital. This shift has promoted the perspective that childbirth is a risky pathological event to be feared. However, professional perspectives of childbirth vary from birth being seen as a natural and challenging process to birth as a risky event that requires medical intervention. Women's perspectives are shaped by both professional perspectives and a natural perspective, and may fall somewhere along a continuum between the two. However, with an emphasis placed on medicalisation, women's birthing choices are limited. Homebirth is perceived as a woman centred practice of care that encompasses choice, continuity and control for women and is associated with improved psychological outcomes for women. In order to provide a more comprehensive understanding of women's psychological needs and values it is important to provide information gained from women who have had no voice in the psychological literature. The present qualitative study involved eight mothers who had chosen to birth in their home. A feminist perspective was utilised to gain insight into the mothers' perspectives. Semi-structured interviews revealed psychological and psychosocial benefits for participants including; increased self-efficacy, perceived control, strengthened familial and spousal relationships. Future directions are discussed including the need for research to compare the psychological and psychosocial outcomes for women who birth in hospitals, birthing centres, and in their homes to examine care issues that are implicated in the psychological well being of birthing women.