New review of UK women's birth place preferences

National guidance and policy supports choice of birth setting for healthy women with straightforward pregnancies and the number of midwifery units is increasing. Most women, however, still give birth in consultant-led hospital obstetric units and there is uncertainty about how best to configure services. As part of the Birthplace Choices project Jennifer Hollowell and others have reviewed quantitative evidence on women's preferences for place of birth in order to better understand what attributes 'low risk' women prefer or prioritise when choosing their intended birth setting. The review, published in BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth, found that much of the evidence came from poor quality studies carried out before 2000. Some service attributes, including local services, being looked after by a known midwife and being involved in decision-making, were almost universally valued by women. For other attributes, including the availability and involvement of medical staff, the availability of pain relief and a clinical or more 'homely' environment, women's views and preferences varied. Read the full paper.