UK legislation and government policy favour women’s rights to bodily autonomy and active involvement in childbirth decision-making including the right to decline recommendations of care/treatment. However, evidence suggests that both women and maternity professionals can face challenges enacting decisions outside of sociocultural norms.
This study, published in PLOS ONE, explored how NHS midwives facilitated women’s alternative physiological birthing choices, defined in this study as ‘birth choices that go outside of local/national maternity guidelines or when women decline recommended treatment of care, in the pursuit of a physiological birth.'
Due to the wide range of women’s choices this study reported, the knowledge generated has applications as heuristic knowledge which can be used by midwives more broadly within their clinical care delivery. The benefits being that the findings can be applied to most ‘out of guidelines’ clinical situations by any maternity professional. Delivering such care can be achieved by meaningful engagement with women’; through mechanisms of trust and information sharing, care plans and safety measures can be implemented to support women’s autonomous decision-making.