<p>The aim of the thesis is to explore pregnant women's decision-making and major influences on their preferences for a place of delivery. The study was prompted by the UK government's policy of a woman centred maternity service (Department of Health 1993b), and the observation that studies had concentrated on professionals' rather than women's views about the place of delivery. Two factors were considered to have potential influence in decision making, one being the individual woman's risk perception related to the process of childbirth, and the other, knowledge about available options for place of birth. First, a systematic review was conducted, looking at available studies on women's views about the place of delivery. Only 9 studies were found, suggesting a need for more studies. Secondly, a primary study was conducted using in-depth interviews with 20 women planning a hospital birth, and 13 planning a home birth to explore factors that led to their respective choices. Results from the primary study indicate that women were not offered information about the availability of home birth. Consequently, 90% of those planning a hospital birth did not give thought to where they were going to have their babies, but assumed they were going to go to hospital. On the other hand, those planning a home birth found information privately and discussed the options with their husbands before making a decision. Additionally, results exposed differences in perception of safety concerning childbirth for subsequent deliveries according to planned place of delivery. Control of the birth process and environment was also found to be important for women planning a home birth. Risk perception and information about available options were found to influence decision-making about the place of birth, thus supporting the hypotheses of the thesis.</p
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