A qualitative study of women's experiences of home birth in Sweden.
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Objective: to illuminate the experiences of women who have given birth at home. Methods: a descriptive design with a qualitative approach based on interviews with 12 women. The text was analysed using a phenomenological-hermeneutic method. Findings: giving birth at home meant preserved authority and autonomy whereby the women themselves ruled the situation. The women's experiences of giving birth at home can be divided into three themes, with internal variations viewed as subthemes. The main themes were as follows: 'having faith in one's own competence 'choosing support on one's own terms'; and 'being at home'. The experience embraced an earthly dimension, represented by reliance on inherent natural forces, and an existential, spiritual dimension, represented by faith in life itself, expressed in terms of the sacredness of giving birth, a heavenly experience, and wisdom about life itself. Conclusion: the experience of giving birth at home seems to differ from findings of studies focusing on the experience of giving birth in hospital. A reasonable goal for maternity care in hospital could, however, be that all women should have the opportunity to give birth on their own terms in a supportive and calm environment, surrounded by people who can assist if needed. (c) 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.