Skip to main content
Article thumbnail
Location of Repository

A phenomenological analysis of women's choices, expectations and experiences when intending to give birth in a birth centre

By Elizabeth Edwards


The aim of this study was to explore the factors that influenced women to choose care in a birth centre in the South Wales Valleys, and to ascertain their expectations and experiences of care in the antenatal period and during labour. The possibility of complications arising during normal pregnancy is a well-known phenomenon, leading to a woman‘s care being transferred from a midwife to an obstetrician. For women intending to give birth in the birth centre, this also meant having care transferred to the District General Hospital eight miles distant. Experiences of those women who had care transferred were of a particular interest. Even though transfer is a common occurrence, little research exploring the effects of this from the woman‘s perspective has been carried out. The study was qualitative, using thematic analysis based on Gadamerian phenomenological principles. Semi-structured interviews were carried out with a purposeful sample of twenty women who described their antenatal experiences. Five of the women were later transferred from midwifery-led to obstetric-led care in the obstetric unit, with three of the transfers occurring during labour. A second interview was held with these five women to explore their experiences further. Key findings indicate that women choose the birth centre for its friendly, welcoming environment and woman-centred midwifery care. The influence and importance of family around the time of birth was a notable feature. Women transferred in labour subsequently experienced a different model of care, which for one woman meant that she remained empowered to make choices and decisions about her labour, whilst two other women felt some aspects of care to be mechanistic and impersonal. Recommendations from the study include further, larger scale research into women‘s experiences of transfer. Areas where specific guidance and education may be beneficial are suggested, to give a better understanding of those aspects of transfer that might affect women

Topics: Childbirth - Wales, South, Maternal health services - Wales, South, 618.4, 618.4, Childbirth - Wales, South, Maternal health services - Wales, South, Maternal health services - Wales, South, Childbirth - Wales, South
Publisher: Faculty of Health, Sport and Science
Year: 2009
OAI identifier:
Provided by: Glamorgan Dspace

Suggested articles


  1. (1997). (eds) Reflections on Midwifery. London, Balliere Tindall Kirkham M, Perkins E (eds) 1999. Reflections on Midwifery. London, Balliere Tindall Kitzinger S.
  2. (2002). 5: pp 63 - 83 RCOG.
  3. (1997). A Practical Guide to Research Methods. London, Sage Atkinson
  4. (2006). A Randomized Controlled Trial of a Brief Self-Help Coping Intervention Designed to Reduce Distress when Awaiting Genetic Risk Information. doi
  5. (2003). An Assessment of the Quality of Information Available on the Internet About the IUD and the potential Impact on Contraceptive Choices. doi
  6. (1997). An Introduction to Sociology: Feminist Perspectives (2nd edn)
  7. (1999). An Invitation to Social Construction. London, Sage
  8. (2003). Analysis of Phenomenological Data Generated with Children as Research Participants. doi
  9. (2008). Antenatal Care: Routine Care for the Healthy Pregnant Woman. Clinical Guideline 62. London, Nice NPEU.
  10. (2005). Applying Thematic Analysis Theory to Practice: A Researcher‘s Experience. doi
  11. (2008). Available from: [] (Accessed
  12. (2006). Birth Centre Trials are Unreliable: Letters. The Medical
  13. (2007). Birth Plans: After 25 Years, Women Still Want to be Heard. doi
  14. (1999). Bracketing in Phenomenological Research. doi
  15. (1991). Companionship to Modify the Clinical Birth Environment: Effects on Progress and Perceptions doi
  16. (1982). Concepts of Illness Causation and Responsibility: Some Preliminary Data from a Sample of Working Class Mothers. doi
  17. (2003). Consumers in the Driving Seat: a Public Health Perspective. in: Kirkham M. Birth Centres: a Social Model for Maternity Care.
  18. (1977). Coping with Migraine. in:
  19. (2004). Coping: Pitfalls and Promise. doi
  20. (2003). Creating a Better Birth Environment: an Audit Toolkit.
  21. (2000). Data Management and Analysis Methods in: Denzin NK, Lincoln YS (eds). Handbook of Qualitative Research (2nd edn.) London, Sage Sadala MLA, Adorno RCF.
  22. (1996). Discourse Analysis and Constructionist Approaches: Theoretical Background. in:
  23. (2008). Doctors, Midwives to Team up in Programme to Help Newborns.
  24. Effect of Using Protocols on Medical Care: Randomised Trial of Three Methods of Taking and Antenatal History. doi
  25. (1999). Establishing the Credibility of Qualitative Research Findings: the Plot Thickens. doi
  26. (2006). Feathering the Nest: What Women Want from the Birth Environment. Royal College of
  27. (1986). From Here to Maternity. Harmondsworth, Penguin Oakley A.
  28. (1989). Further research for Nursing. London, Scutari Press Maddux JE, Norton LW, Stolenberg CD. Self Efficacy, Outcome Expectancy, and Outcome Value: Relative Effects on Behavioural Intentions.
  29. (1988). Great Expectations: a Prospective study of Women‘s Expectations and Experiences of Childbirth. doi
  30. (1995). Health: Medical Sociology towards 2000. London, Routledge Searle JR.
  31. (2003). Hermeneutic Research in Nursing: Developing a Gadamerian-based Research Method. doi
  32. (1992). House of Commons Health Committee, Second Report, Maternity Services Vol 1. HMSO Winthereik BR.
  33. (1997). Husserl, Phenomenology and Nursing. doi
  34. (2002). Keynote Address: Second Advances in Qualitative Research Conference. Writing up Qualitative Research….Better.
  35. (2002). Laddered Questions and Qualitative Data Research Interviews. doi
  36. (1992). Learning-as-Testing: a Heideggarian Hermeneutic Analysis of the Lived Experiences of Students and Teachers in Nursing. doi
  37. (1982). Locaity and Families in: Taylor
  38. (2001). Measuring Quality of Life: Is quality Determined by Expectations of Experience?
  39. (2004). Methodological Rigour Within a Qualitative Framework. doi
  40. (1993). Models of Midwifery Care Denmark, Sweden and the Netherlands. doi
  41. (1996). Modern Medicine. Lay Perspectives and Experiences. London, Routledge Willig C.
  42. (1982). Mothers and Daughters. doi
  43. (2004). National Service Framework for Children, Young People and the Maternity Services. London, DoH Department of Health.
  44. (1997). Nursing Research: Principles, Process and Issues. London, Palgrave McMillan Parsons T.
  45. (1991). Office for National Statistics, Wales Welsh Health Planning Forum.
  46. (2006). Office for National Statistics.
  47. (2004). Outcome of Subsequent Pregnancy Three Years After Previous Operative Delivery in the Second Stage of Labour: Cohort Study. doi
  48. (1997). Patient Satisfaction: A Review of Issues and Concepts. doi
  49. (2004). People Who Influence Women‘s Decisions and Preferred Sources of Information about Prenatal Testing for Birth Defects. The Australian and New Zealand Journal of Obstetrics and doi
  50. (1983). Phenomenology: A Method for Nursing Research. Advances in Nursing Science, 5: 2 pp 49 - 63 O‘Sullivan doi
  51. (2006). Pregnant Women‘s Use of the Internet: a Review of Published and Unpublished Evidence. The Royal College of Midwives,
  52. (2004). Promoting Normal Birth : Weighing the Evidence. in: Downe
  53. (1978). Psychological Research as the Phenomenologist Views It. in: Vaile R, King M (eds) Existential Phenomenological Alternatives for Psychology.
  54. (1994). Qualitative Data Analysis – An Expanded Sourcebook (2nd edn.) doi
  55. (1999). Qualitative Research in Nursing – Advancing the Humanistic Imperative (2nd edn.)
  56. (1995). Qualitative Research Methods for Health Professionals.
  57. (2005). Relativistic Knowing. Lecture Notes on Developmental Psychology, (Psyc 250), Second Term, Early Adulthood [internet] (accessed 21st
  58. (2001). Researching Psychic Practitioners: Conversation Analysis. in:
  59. (2002). Rethinking the Birthing Body: Cartesian Dualism and Perinatal Nursing. doi
  60. (1998). Satisfaction with Midwife Managed Care in Different Time Periods: a Randomised Controlled trial of 1299 Women. doi
  61. (2003). Selected Coping Strategies in Labour: an Investigation of Women‘s Experiences. doi
  62. (1982). Self Efficacy Mechanism in Human Agency. doi
  63. (2000). Self-efficacy for Labour and Childbirth Fears in Nulliparous Pregnant Women. doi
  64. (1945). Simulated Home Delivery: a Randomised Controlled Trial.
  65. (1983). Social Perspectives on Pregnancy and Childbirth for Midwives, Nurses and the Caring Professions.
  66. (2000). The Concept of Theme as Used in Qualitative Nursing Research. doi
  67. (2003). The Impact of the Establishment of a Midwife Managed Unit on Women in a Rural Setting in England. doi
  68. (1971). The Inverse Care Law. The Lancet, 27th February pp 405 - 412 HDA. doi
  69. (1995). The Less we do, the More we Give. in: Kirkham M (ed) The MidwifeMother relationship. Basingstoke, Palgrave Macmillan
  70. (1999). The Meaning of Learning in Critical care Nursing: a Hermeneutic Study. doi
  71. (2002). The Measurement of Satisfaction with Healthcare: Implications for Practice From a Systematic review of the Literature (executive summary).
  72. (1987). The Newbury Maternity Care Study: a Randomised Controlled Trial to Assess a Policy of Women Holding Their Own Obstetric Records. doi
  73. (1987). The Policy and Practice in Midwifery Study: Introduction and Methods. doi
  74. (1997). The Professional Imagination: Narrative and the Symbolic Boundaries Between Medicine and Nursing. doi
  75. (2004). The Range of Coping Strategies Women Use to Manage Pain and Anxiety Prior to and During First Experience of Labour. doi
  76. (1991). The research process in nursing. (2nd edition) London, Blackwell Scientific Publications Cosgrove L.
  77. (2008). The Sexual Politics of Sickness in: Ehrenreich N.
  78. (2003). The Social Context of Birth. Oxon,
  79. (2000). The Standpoint of Storyteller. doi
  80. (2001). the Ten Item Edinburgh Post-Natal Depression Scale.
  81. (1994). They Know Best‘: Women‘s Perceptions of Midwifery Care During Labour and Childbirth. doi
  82. (1993). Toward a Nursing Practice Research Method. doi
  83. (2001). Unravelling Social Constructionism. Theory and doi
  84. (2002). Unstructured Interviews: Challenges When Participants Have a Major Depressive Illness. doi
  85. (1995). Using Interviews in Qualitative Research.
  86. (1991). Whose Science? Whose Knowledge? Thinking from Women‘s Lives. doi
  87. (1987). Winter : pp 41 - 43 Cox
  88. (2007). With Woman‘ Philosophy: Examining the Evidence, Answering the Questions. doi
  89. (1992). Women and Medicalisation: a New Perspective in: Kirkup G, Kelle LS (eds). Inventing Women. Science Technology and Gender. Cambridge, Polity Press Ricoeur P.
  90. (2008). Women as Consumers of Maternity care: Measuring ―Satisfaction‖ or ―Dissatisfaction‖. doi
  91. (1998). Women‘s Perceptions of Birth Plans. doi
  92. (2003). Women‘s Views on the Impact of operative Delivery in the Second Stage of Labour: Qualitative Interview Study. doi
  93. (1999). Worry: Conceptual Dimensions and Relevance to Childbearing Women. Heath Care for Women doi

To submit an update or takedown request for this paper, please submit an Update/Correction/Removal Request.