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Caroline J Hollins Martin
British Journal of Midwifery, Vol. 16, Iss. 9, 04 Sep 2008, pp 583 - 587

If women are to be empowered to make choices for childbirth, it is important that midwives explore and discuss their wishes and feelings about the delivery options available. Providing practical and sensible information should facilitate women with constructing a more accurate picture from which realistic hopes, fears and expectations can be formulated about impending labour. To facilitate midwives with this process, a flexible framework for a birth plan has been proposed. This easy to complete template can be used to assist childbearing women with assimilating their ambitions and desires regarding labour. Birth planning is important, since studies that compare women’s expectations of childbirth with actual experience present contrasting accounts, with disappointment, guilt and failure compared with delight, pride and success. Since experiences differ it is recommended that midwives audit birth satisfaction against women’s birth plans. Results would inform auditors of whether there is satisfaction with a woman’s birth experience and the quality of care that she perceived she received. Women’s articulated wishes about birth would facilitate understanding of why satisfaction/dissatisfaction occurs.

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