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Women’s perceptions of risk, safety and autonomy drive what we (providers and society) consider non-normative choices in pregnancy and childbirth
  1. Yael Benyamini
  1. Bob Shapell School of Social Work, Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv, Israel
  1. Correspondence to Dr Yael Benyamini, Bob Shapell School of Social Work, Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv, 6997801, Israel; benyael{at}

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Commentary on: Madeley AM, Earle S, O'Dell L. Challenging norms: Making non-normative choices in childbearing. Results of a meta ethnographic review of the literature. Midwifery. 2023 Jan;116:103532. doi: 10.1016/j.midw.2022.103532. Epub 2022 Oct 30

Implications for research and practice

  • Nurses should strive to understand women’s needs, past experiences and sociocultural background as a basis for discussing their choices in a non-judgemental way.

  • Research on non-normative choices in childbearing should include ethnic and sexual minorities, and evaluate protocols for sensitive, women-centred discussion of birthing choices.


Preferences about childbirth range along a wide continuum from physiological, sometimes even unassisted births, to caesarean sections by maternal request. Despite this wide range, most births in the western world take place in medical settings, making it in practice a medical event, reflecting society’s and health professionals’ views of risk and safety that define birth choices which are considered normative. This leaves the extremes of the above mentioned range, as ‘non-normative’, creating challenges for women …

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  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; internally peer reviewed.