Home birth remains a contentious issue in North America. Professional regulatory bodies are in conflict about the safety of home birth as an option for healthy women. The voices of women have largely been ignored in this debate. The purpose of this study is to report on the experiences of 559 women who had a planned home birth over a 2-year period in British Columbia, Canada.
We asked all women in the Province of British Columbia who had planned for their birth to be at home with a regulated midwife in attendance to answer an open-ended question about positive and negative aspects of their birth. The qualitative method of interpretive description was used to understand what women believed to be the essence of their experience.
Women felt strongly positive about their trust in their midwife's skill and knowledge, a sense of emotional support and empowerment attained through their relationship with the midwife, perceptions of relaxation in their own home, being informed and included in the planning of their care, and the amount of time the midwife spent with their family. They believed that the confidence arising from their intense preparation and partnership with their midwives permitted them to choreograph their birth experience to a degree that would not be possible in a formal setting.
Women who planned a home birth with a registered midwife in British Columbia were overwhelmingly positive about their experience. Our qualitative report underscores the value women place on having the choice to give birth at home.