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Decision making between women and their caregivers during labour ranged from being unilateral to joint and was associated with various emotions

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QUESTION: How are decisions made by women and their caregivers during labour and what are the associated patterns of control?


A reanalysis of 33 birth stories using an exploratory, descriptive design.


Midwestern USA.


15 women between 18 and 39 years of age who represented a variety of birth experiences. 8 women were primiparous and 7 were multiparous. 12 women were Euro-American and 3 were “women of colour”. All women had given birth within the previousm 4 months.


Women told their birth stories in any way they wished. Interviews were audiotaped, transcribed verbatim, and analysed using content and thematic analysis. Coders from different disciplines were also recruited to provide fresh perspectives and new interpretations of the data.

Main findings

4 types of decision making and their associated patterns of control were identified. The first type of decision making was a unilateral decision made by the caregivers that …

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  • Source of funding: No external funding.

  • For correspondence: Dr L VandeVusse, Marquette University, College of Nursing, Nurse-Midwifery Program, Clark Hall, PO Box 1881, Milwaukee, WI 53201-1881, USA.