Women’s Experiences of Empowerment in a Planned Home Birth: A Swedish Population-based Study

Authors

  • Helena Lindgren RN, RM, PhD,

    1. Helena Lindgren is a Senior Lecturer at the School of Health and Social Science, Dalarna University, Falun, and the Department of Women’s and Children’s Health, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm; and Kerstin Erlandsson is a Senior Lecturer at the School of Health, Care and Social Welfare, Mälardalen University, Eskilstuna/Västerås, Sweden.
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  • Kerstin Erlandsson RN, RM, PhD

    1. Helena Lindgren is a Senior Lecturer at the School of Health and Social Science, Dalarna University, Falun, and the Department of Women’s and Children’s Health, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm; and Kerstin Erlandsson is a Senior Lecturer at the School of Health, Care and Social Welfare, Mälardalen University, Eskilstuna/Västerås, Sweden.
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Address correspondence to Helena Lindgren, School of Health and Social Science, Dalarna University, 791 88 Falun, Sweden.

Abstract

Abstract:  Background:  Childbirth can be an empowering event in a woman’s life. However, little is known about women’s own perceptions of power and empowering sources during childbirth. This study aimed to describe the factors experienced as empowering during a planned home birth.

Methods:  The inclusion criteria were women in Sweden who had a planned home birth between 1992 and 2005. All the women (n = 735) who agreed to participate received one questionnaire for each planned home birth. A total of 1,038 questionnaires were sent to the women. The written birth stories were analyzed using content analysis and descriptive statistics.

Results:  In the analysis of the participants’ birth experience four categories and one overall theme emerged from the stories. The categories identified were sensations, guidance, tacit support, and identification of needs. Greater emphasis was put on guidance among first-time mothers than among multiparas, for whom tacit support was identified as the most empowering factor. The overall theme was identified as “resting in acceptance of the process.” The empowerment women expressed by achieving and maintaining a sense of control allowed them to rest in acceptance of the efforts that are part of a normal birth.

Conclusion:  Women who choose to give birth at home find empowering sources within themselves from their environment and from the active and passive support of persons they have chosen to be present at the birth. (BIRTH 37:4 December 2010)

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