Publications & Reports

Mapping the trajectories for women and their babies from births planned at home, in a birth centre or in a hospital in New South Wales, Australia, between 2000 and 2012.

Vanessa L Scarf, Rosalie Viney, Serena Yu, Maralyn Foureur, Chris Rossiter, Hannah Dahlen, Charlene Thornton, Seong Leang Cheah, Caroline S E Homer
Centre for Midwifery, Child and Family Health, University of Technology Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. [email protected]


BACKGROUND: In New South Wales (NSW) Australia, women at low risk of complications can choose from three birth settings: home, birth centre and hospital. Between 2000 and 2012, around 6.4% of pregnant women planned to give birth in a birth centre (6%) or at home (0.4%) and 93.6% of women planned to birth in a hospital. A proportion of the woman in the home and birth centre groups transferred to hospital. However, their pathways or trajectories are largely unknown. AIM: The aim was to map the trajectories and interventions experienced by women and their babies from births planned at home, in a birth centre or in a hospital over a 13-year period in NSW. METHODS: Using population-based linked datasets from NSW, women at low risk of complications, with singleton pregnancies, gestation 37-41 completed weeks and spontaneous onset of labour were included. We used a decision tree framework to depict the trajectories of these women and estimate the probabilities of the following: giving birth in their planned setting; being transferred; requiring interventions and neonatal admission to higher level hospital care. The trajectories were analysed by parity. RESULTS: Over a 13-year period, 23% of nulliparous and 0.8% of multiparous women planning a home birth were transferred to hospital. In the birth centre group, 34% of nulliparae and 12% of multiparas were transferred to a hospital. Normal vaginal birth rates were higher in multiparous women compared to nulliparous women in all settings. Neonatal admission to SCN/NICU was highest in the planned hospital group for nulliparous women (10.1%), 7.1% for nulliparous women planning a birth centre birth and 5.1% of nulliparous women planning a homebirth. Multiparas had lower admissions to SCN/NICU for all thee settings (hospital 6.3%, BC 3.6%, home 1.6%, respectively). CONCLUSIONS: Women who plan to give birth at home or in a birth centre have high rates of vaginal birth, even when transferred to hospital. Evidence on the trajectories of women who choose to give birth at home or in birth centres will assist the planning, costing and expansion of models of care in NSW.


  • Journal: BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth
  • Published: 21/12/2019
  • Volume: 19
  • Issue: 1
  • Pagination: 513