Women's experiences of induction of labour: a qualitative study

Annabel Jay

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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This qualitative study examines women’s experiences of induction of labour from the perspective of informed choice and decision-making. Induction currently affects 23.3% of all births in England (BirthChoiceUK Professional, 2014). Although much research has been conducted into clinical aspects of induction in recent years, very few studies have considered it from the woman’s point of view. The current discourse on woman centred care is conceptualized as empowering women to make informed choices and to have control over their reproductive health. From this perspective, this study sets out to explore the circumstances in which women gain information and make decisions about induction and how induction affects their overall birthing experience.
Data was collected through semi-structured interviews with 21 first-time mothers approximately 3-6 weeks after giving birth and was analyzed thematically.
The findings indicated that information from health professionals was sparse and often difficult for women to relate to their own circumstances, indicating a need for information to be individualized to women’s specific needs. There was a notable disparity between women’s expectations of induction and their actual experiences. Time on the antenatal ward was likened to a state of prolonged liminality, where women were separated from everyday life and subjected to restrictive policies and regulations. Following induction, there was a notable shift in women’s attitudes towards medicalised childbirth, with one third favouring the idea of a caesarean section in future.
Despite the current discourse on informed choice, this study supports Mavis Kirkham’s theory that it exists more in rhetoric than in reality and is hampered by the prevailing structure of maternity care. In order to improve the induction experience, a more woman-centred model of care is called for.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Hertfordshire
  • Thomas, Hilary, Supervisor
  • Mead, Marianne, Supervisor
  • Brooks, Fiona, Supervisor
Award date12 Jan 2016
Publication statusPublished - 2016


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