Becoming a Homebirther, Smooth Sailing or Rocky Road? An Exploration of Pakeha Women's Experience on the Path to Homebirth
This study explores the experiences of primiparous women on the path to planning the homebirth of their first child. There are many challenges along the way and although there are many supports, society does not generally view homebirth as a safe option. This study highlights the themes emerging about the relative ease or disease of the journey. Was the experience smooth sailing on an undulating ocean or a testing trek along a rocky road? There is a vast body of evidence about homebirth, with much of the quantitative literature being outcome focussed and most of the qualitative literature exploring women's experience of the homebirth-day. Birthing at home has been linked with increased maternal satisfaction compared with other birth venues and correlates with a feeling of maintaining power and control during the birth process. Homebirth has also been shown to have similar rates of intrapartum and neonatal mortality, as well as lower maternal intervention rates, in low risk populations. This study principally investigates the experience of Pakeha New Zealand women on their way to planning a homebirth for their first baby. The findings of this narrative inquiry include that women make the journey to becoming a homebirther both before pregnancy and during pregnancy, and that they need good support and information. Hearing positive homebirth stories, having a midwife who professes a preference for homebirth, and having access to homebirth resources play integral roles in becoming a homebirther.