"Only weirdos give birth at home" and other young adult perceptions of midwives and home birth: Implications for communication campaigns promoting midwifery

Caitlin Natt, Purdue University


Midwife-assisted out-of-hospital birth is growing phenomenon in American maternal healthcare. It has been shown to be a safe alternative to hospital birth that could benefit families in terms of health, well-being, and cost. To aid in the continued growth of home birth in the United States, it is important to understand intentions of American preparental young adults and the attitudes and beliefs that underlie those intentions to better craft midwifery and home birth advocacy campaigns. Using the Reasoned Action Approach (Fishbein & Azjen, 2010) as theoretical framework, a qualitative survey was administered to a sample of American preparental college students to understand their salient beliefs regarding midwifery and home birth. These beliefs were then incorporated into a survey administered to a larger sample of this population. This survey found that attitudes towards and perceived behavioral control of birthing at home with a midwife predicted intent to engage in that behavior. Several key beliefs were identified as having the most predictive power as well as the mediating effects of media exposure, biological sex, and knowing someone who birthed at home with a midwife. Overall, this was found to be a useful population for study with an emphasis on interpersonal communication and narrative being the main advocacy strategy identified.