University of Worcester Worcester Research and Publications

Plans, Preferences or Going with the Flow: an Online Exploration of Women’s Views and Experiences of Birth Plans

Divall, B., Spiby, H., Nolan, Mary and Slade, P. (2017) Plans, Preferences or Going with the Flow: an Online Exploration of Women’s Views and Experiences of Birth Plans. Midwifery, 54. pp. 29-34. ISSN 0266-6138

[img] Text
C__Users_NOLM1_Documents_PDFs of articles_Birth plans empirical paper with revisions FINAL.docx - Accepted Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.

Download (39kB)


To explore women’s views of birth plans, and experiences of their completion and use.
A qualitative, exploratory study, using Internet-mediated research methods.
The discussion boards of two well-known, UK-based, online parenting forums, where a series of questions relating to birth plans were posted.
Members of the selected parenting forums who had written and used, or who had chosen not to write or use, a birth plan.
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.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information:

Staff and students at the University of Worcester can access the full-text via the UW online library search. External users should check availability with their local library or Interlibrary Requests Service.

Uncontrolled Discrete Keywords: birth plans, choice, control, online research methods, preparation for labour
Subjects: R Medicine > RG Gynecology and obstetrics
Divisions: College of Health, Life and Environmental Sciences > School of Nursing and Midwifery
Related URLs:
Depositing User: Mary Nolan
Date Deposited: 31 Oct 2017 10:00
Last Modified: 30 Jun 2020 13:27

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item
Worcester Research and Publications is powered by EPrints 3 which is developed by the School of Electronics and Computer Science at the University of Southampton. More information and software credits.