A participatory action research study exploring women’s understandings of the concept of informed choice during pregnancy and childbirth in Ireland.

Authors: O'Brien D, Butler MM, Casey M


Midwifery. 2017 Mar;46:1-7

OBJECTIVE: to explore women's understandings and definitions of the concept of informed choice during pregnancy and childbirth.
METHODS: a three-phase action research approach. In the first phase of the study (reported in this paper), fifteen women were interviewed to establish their understandings and experiences of informed choice.
SETTING: Dublin, Ireland in a large maternity hospital.
PARTICIPANTS: fifteen postnatal women who gave birth to a live healthy infant, women attended obstetric or midwifery-led care.
FINDINGS: we found that multiple factors influence how women define informed choice including; their expectations of exercising choice, their sense of responsibility towards their infant, their sense of self and the quality of their relationships with maternity care professionals. The interdependence of the mother-baby relationship deems that in the context of pregnancy and childbirth, women's definitions, perceptions and experiences of informed choice should be considered to be relational. Women consider that informed choice means more than just the provision of information; rather it requires an in-depth discussion with a professional who is known to them. Women's understandings reveal that informed choice, is not only defined by but contingent on the quality of women's relationships with their caregiver and their ability to engage in a process of shared decision-making with them.
KEY CONCLUSION: Informed choice is defined and experienced as a relational construct, the support provided by maternity care professionals to women in contemporary maternity care must reflect this.



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