Homebirth experiences more positive than hospital births, study finds

Midwifery-led care scores higher than consultant-led care in first research involving Irish women who have delivered both in hospital and at home

There was a 53 per cent increase in the number of planned homebirths in 2021, compared with two years earlier. Photograph: PA

Experiences of homebirth are overwhelmingly more positive than hospital births, according to a study conducted by researchers in Trinity College Dublin. The research also found that in hospital, midwifery-led care scored significantly higher than consultant care.

The online survey of 141 participants is the first study to compare experiences of those who have given birth both in hospital and at home in Ireland.

Participants were overwhelmingly more positive about their experience of homebirth compared with their experience of hospital birth across all aspects of care surveyed, according to lead researcher Soma Gregory, from the school of social work and social policy in Trinity.

Those surveyed rated their experience of homebirth as 9.7 out of 10 compared with an average score of 5.5 out of 10 for hospital birth.


In the hospital setting, midwifery-led care scored higher at 6.4 out of 10 compared with consultant-led care at 4.9 out of 10, according to the study, published in Women and Birth journal.

“Better continuity of care, greater bodily integrity and more informed consent during home births were identified by participants as some of the reasons why their homebirth experience was more positive than their hospital birth,” Ms Gregory said.

“Many of the women and other birthing people who participated in the study felt that interventions routinely offered in hospital were unwanted or unnecessary and would alter the natural course of birth, with a perception that hospital policies and procedures were often at odds with individual birth preferences and aspirations.”

While the vast majority of births in Ireland take place in hospital, either under the care of an obstetrician or a team of midwives, 650 planned homebirths took place in 2021, a 53 per cent increase on two years earlier.

Paul Cullen

Paul Cullen

Paul Cullen is a former heath editor of The Irish Times.