Influential factors for first-time mothers in their decision making processes in planning home births
Godfrey, Mary Katherine
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While the vast majority of pregnant women give birth in the hospital, the number of women planning to birth at home is currently growing (MacDorman & Menacker, 2010). While home birth can be a safe and satisfying option for women, little is known about what influences a woman to make the decision to plan a home birth. A phenomenological analysis was conducted with first time mothers who were planning a home birth with a care provider. Three women who were pregnant wrote in journals about their decision making process. Six women who had planned a home birth for their first child were interviewed. An analysis of these journals and interviews was conducted to identify influential themes common to these first time mothers. Overall, a feminist lens was used to analyze data and Ecological Systems Theory was used as a way of organizing themes. Findings indicate that influential factors for these first time mothers included the desire for a natural childbirth experience, apprehensions regarding the medical model of pregnancy and childbirth, wanting to have power and control over their birth experience, the guiding function of intuition, and the influence of their partners. In addition, the women provided suggestions for other mothers and shared lessons they learned from their experience of planning a home birth. Results from this study are consistent with the literature calling for feminist based research on women's birth experiences.