Skip to main content

Research Repository

See what's under the surface

Advanced Search

Plans, preferences or going with the flow: an online exploration of women's views and experiences of birth plans

Divall, Bernie; Spiby, Helen; Nolan, Mary; Slade, Pauline

Authors

Bernie Divall bernadette.divall@nottingham.ac.uk

Helen Spiby helen.spiby@nottingham.ac.uk

Mary Nolan m.nolan@worc.ac.uk

Pauline Slade pauline.slade@liverpool.ac.uk



Abstract

Objective
To explore women’s views of birth plans, and experiences of their completion and use.
Design
A qualitative, exploratory study, using Internet-mediated research methods.
Setting
The discussion boards of two well-known, UK-based, online parenting forums, where a series of questions relating to birth plans were posted.
Participants
Members of the selected parenting forums who had written and used, or who had chosen not to write or use, a birth plan.
Findings
Women responded with a range of views and experiences relating to the completion and use of birth plans. The benefits of birth plans were described in terms of communication with healthcare professionals, potentially enhancing awareness of available options, and maintaining a sense of control during labour and birth. However, many respondents believed the idea of ‘planning’ birth was problematic, and described a reluctance to write a formal plan. The support of healthcare professionals, particularly midwives, was considered essential to the success of both writing and using birth plans.
Key conclusions
Our findings show a continued debate among women on the benefits and challenges involved in writing and using birth plans, suggesting problems for a ‘one size fits all’ approach often seen in the use of birth plan templates. In the context of maternity policy supporting women’s choice and personalised care, and as a way of acknowledging perceived problems of ‘planning’ for birth, a flexible approach to birth plans is required, including the consideration of employing alternative nomenclature.
Implications for practice
Birth plans remain a point of contention in care contexts around the world. Midwives and other healthcare providers play a central role in supporting women to discuss available options, whether or not they decide to complete a formal birth plan.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Nov 30, 2017
Journal Midwifery
Print ISSN 0266-6138
Electronic ISSN 1532-3099
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 54
APA6 Citation Divall, B., Spiby, H., Nolan, M., & Slade, P. (2017). Plans, preferences or going with the flow: an online exploration of women's views and experiences of birth plans. Midwifery, 54, doi:10.1016/j.midw.2017.07.020
DOI https://doi.org/10.1016/j.midw.2017.07.020
Keywords Birth plans, choice, control, qualitative, online research methods, preparation for labour
Publisher URL http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0266613817301626?via%3Dihub
Copyright Statement Copyright information regarding this work can be found at the following address: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0

Files

Birth plans empirical paper with revisions FINAL.pdf (772 Kb)
PDF

Copyright Statement
Copyright information regarding this work can be found at the following address: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0





You might also like



Downloadable Citations

;