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The influence of self in women's decision-making about birthplace : an interpretive phenomenological study

Lambert, Carol


Carol Lambert


Julie Jomeen

Wilfred McSherry


In the United Kingdom current maternity policy advocates the importance of flexible individualised services that fit with the needs of women. Choice of services for women as consumers is paramount in a system that aims to promote safe, high quality care. As women make choices, they navigate a complex journey; learning from women’s experiences is fundamental to understanding this journey and influencing future policy and practice. Literature on what influences decision-making demonstrates a paucity of information and a limitation of women’s voices. Following an Interpretive Phenomenological approach grounded in a feminist perspective to promote women’s voices, a group of 25 antenatal and postnatal women were asked about their experiences, perceptions and choices in the context of their maternity care. This study explored how they may be socially influenced and pressured to conform to authority in birthplace choices. It illuminates how emancipation and conformity are linked to consider whether emancipation reduces pressure to conform and what the implications of this might mean in a wider sociological context of birth experience.

Based on Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis, a unique, seven stage iterative framework of analysis was developed. Self and aspects of self emerged as the most significant theme for decision-making existing within a frame of constant interplay of external influences such as environment, knowledge and professionals. As different pregnancy identities emerged, it was evident that this interplay has positive and negative effects as women experience decision-making.

Conformity and emancipation are profoundly linked to decision-making; self is complex but critical to this process. For women to be self-determined and assured in their birthplace choices there is urgent need to reconsider interactions at every level. This approach must address the complexities of self so women and midwives remain equal partners. The implications of this reach beyond the discipline of maternity care.


Lambert, C. (2013). The influence of self in women's decision-making about birthplace : an interpretive phenomenological study. (Thesis). University of Hull. Retrieved from

Thesis Type Thesis
Deposit Date Feb 14, 2014
Publicly Available Date Feb 23, 2023
Keywords Nursing
Public URL
Additional Information Department of Nursing, The University of Hull
Award Date Jun 1, 2013


Thesis (3.9 Mb)

Copyright Statement
© 2013 Lambert, Carol. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the written permission of the copyright holder.

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