Childbirth Outside the Hospital: the Experiences of Texas Homebirther


Katelyn Ginn

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Sociology and Criminal Justice

Date of Award

Summer 2013


The topic of homebirth in the United States is controversial. Data waver and public opinions are often negative, but those who do not participate in this practice have no personal understanding of it. While the most of American women are either experiencing high-risk pregnancies, unaware of the practice of homebirthing or are consciously or subconsciously choosing the hospital as the safest option for their childbirth, a much smaller portion of the population consciously chooses to give birth outside of the hospital. In America's medicalized culture, this decision is regularly seen as dangerous, and often neglected are the actual experiences of those who live them. While research has been conducted on the literal motivations to birth away from the hospital, there has been very little research on what influence structural forces may have on this decision. To fill this gap in literature and knowledge, I first set out to uncover institutional influences and see if women are choosing to avoid a system of medicalization, professional dominance, and patriarchy, which is suggested in the literature. Second, I aimed to discover if women are consciously avoiding these institutional influences. Third, I wanted to know how socio-cultural factors influenced the decision to homebirth. Last, I wanted to learn the experiences of homebirthers. Methods included in-depth interviews with women who have experienced a homebirth in the state of Texas and are at least 18 years of age. I utilized grounded theory, using the data I collected to build theory, and the constant comparative method to find similarities and differences among my respondents throughout the research process (Charmaz, 2006.) I also utilized Dorothy Smith's (1987) institutional ethnography, which enabled me to understand the framework of homebirthers' everyday lives.


Yvonne Villanueva-Russell

Subject Categories

Social and Behavioral Sciences