“Trying to give birth naturally was out of the question”: Accounting for intervention in childbirth

Lindsay Cole, Amanda LeCouteur, Rebecca Feo, Hannah Dahlen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

Problem: Studies of women's childbirth preferences repeatedly show that natural birth remains highly valued, yet the majority of births involve some form of medical intervention. Reasons for this lack of correspondence have typically been investigated through interviews and focus-groups with women. Relatively little research explores the ways in which women describe their experiences of childbirth outside of such research settings. Background: Most maternity services promote woman-centred care, whereby women are encouraged to take active roles in deciding how to give birth. However, recent research indicates that women often report feeling disempowered during labour and birth in hospital settings. Aim: We sought to examine how women account for use of medical intervention in hospitals by examining narratives posted on online discussion forums. Method: A thematic analysis of 106 publically available birth stories, sourced using the Internet search terms ‘birth story’ and ‘birth narrative’ was undertaken. Findings: Medical interventions in childbirth were routinely described as unwanted, yet as unavoidable, and two types of account were typically drawn on to explain their use: Protection of the baby/mother; and inflexible hospital policy/practice. We examine these two types of account, focusing on how their design oriented to the discordance between mothers’ reported desires for a natural birth, and their experiences in hospital. Conclusion: The experience of medical intervention in childbirth is routinely oriented to as a matter that requires explanation or account in online birth narratives. Women repeatedly referred to their preference to avoid intervention, but described being unable to do so in hospital.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e95-e101
Number of pages7
JournalWomen and Birth
Volume32
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2019
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Birth narratives
  • Medical interventions
  • Naturalistic
  • Unsolicited
  • Woman-centred care

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of '“Trying to give birth naturally was out of the question”: Accounting for intervention in childbirth'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this