Early labour is the very first phase of the labour process and is considered to be a period of time when no professional attendance is needed. However there is a high frequency of women who seek care at the delivery wards during this phase. When a woman is admitted to the delivery ward, one role for midwives is to determine whether the woman is in established labour or not. If the woman is assessed as being in early labour she will probably then be advised to return home. This recommendation is made due to past research that found that the longer a woman is in hospital the higher the risk for complications for her and her child. Women have described how this situation leaves them in a vulnerable situation where their preferences are not always met and where they are not always included in the decision-making process.
The aim of this study was to generate a theory based on where a woman chooses to be during the early labour process and to increase our understanding about how experiences can differ from place to place.
The method was a secondary analysis with grounded theory. The data used in the analysis was from two qualitative interview studies and 37 transcripts.
The findings revealed a substantive theory that women needed to be in a safe and thus secure place during early labour. This theory also describes the interplay between how women ascribed their meaning of childbirth as either a natural live event or a medical one, how this influenced where they wanted to be during early labour, and how that chosen place influenced their experiences of labour and birth.