Email updates

Keep up to date with the latest news and content from BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth and BioMed Central.

Open Access Open Badges Research article

Concurrent analysis of choice and control in childbirth

Austyn Snowden1, Colin Martin2, Julie Jomeen3 and Caroline Hollins Martin4*

Author Affiliations

1 Research Fellow in Psychological Care and Therapies and Lecturer in Mental Health Nursing. School of Health, Nursing and Midwifery, University of the West of Scotland, Paisley Campus, Paisley, PA1 2BE, Scotland, UK

2 Professor of Mental Health. School of Health, Nursing and Midwifery, University of the West of Scotland, Ayr Campus, Beech Grove, KA8 0SR , Ayr, Scotland, UK

3 Associate Dean Research and Scholarship. Faculty of Health and Social Care, University of Hull, Cottingham Road, Hull, HU6 7RX , England, UK

4 Senior Lecturer, Department of Community, Women and Children's Health, The School of Health, Glasgow Caledonian University, G4 OBA , Scotland, UK

For all author emails, please log on.

BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth 2011, 11:40  doi:10.1186/1471-2393-11-40

Published: 1 June 2011



This paper reports original research on choice and control in childbirth. Eight women were interviewed as part of a wider investigation into locus of control in women with pre-labour rupture of membranes at term (PROM) [1].


The following study uses concurrent analysis to sample and analyse narrative aspects of relevant literature along with these interviews in order to synthesise a generalisable analysis of the pertinent issues. The original PROM study had found that women experienced a higher degree of control in hospital, a finding that appeared at odds with contemporary notions of choice. However, this paper contextualises this finding by presenting narratives that lucidly subscribe to the dominant discourse of hospital as the safest place to give birth, under the premise of assuring a live healthy baby irrespective of their management type.


This complex narrative is composed of the following themes: 'perceiving risk', 'being prepared', 'reflecting on experience', maintaining control' and relinquishing control'. These themes are constructed within and around the medical, foetocentric, risk averse cultural context. Primary data are presented throughout to show the origins and interconnected nature of these themes.


Within this context it is clear that there is a highly valued role for competent health professionals that respect, understand and are capable of facilitating genuine choice for women.

Choice; control; pregnancy; narrative; qualitative; generalisable; concurrent analysis