Introduction: The number of US women choosing home birth is increasing. Little is known about women who choose home birth after having experienced hospital birth; therefore, the purpose of this research was to explore reasons why these women choose home birth and their perceptions regarding their birth experiences.
Methods: Qualitative description was the research design, whereby focus groups were conducted with women who had hospital births and subsequently chose home birth. Five focus groups were conducted (N = 20), recorded, and transcribed verbatim. Qualitative content analysis was undertaken allowing themes to emerge.
Results: Five themes emerged from the women's narratives: 1) choices and empowerment: with home birth, women felt they were given real choices rather than perceived choices, giving them feelings of empowerment; 2) interventions and interruptions: women believed things were done that were not helpful to the birth process, and there were interruptions associated with their hospital births; 3) disrespect and dismissal: participants believed that during hospital birth, providers were more focused on the laboring woman's uterus, with some experiencing dismissal from their hospital provider when choosing to birth at home; 4) birth space: giving birth in their own home, surrounded by people they chose, created a peaceful and calm environment; and 5) connection: women felt connected to their providers, families, newborns, and bodies during their home birth.
Discussion: For most participants, dissatisfaction with hospital birth influenced their subsequent decision to choose home birth. Despite experiencing challenges associated with this decision, women expressed satisfaction with their home birth.
Keywords: United States; birth; home birth; qualitative description; satisfaction.
© 2014 by the American College of Nurse-Midwives.