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Caroline J Hollins Martin
British Journal of Midwifery, Vol. 15, Iss. 8, 01 Aug 2007, pp 480 - 484

Obedience research has shown that under situational pressures and within hierarchical relationships, people have a propensity towards submission to authority (Milgram, 1974). Once they have done so, their actions are no longer guided by their own values but by the desire to fulfill authority’s wishes (Meeus and Raaijmakers, 1995). When an authority figure gives direction, this may clash with a midwife’s knowledge of a woman’s preferred choice. Hollins Martin and Bull (2005) showed the success that a senior midwife had at socially influencing decisions of more junior midwives, even when the outcome contravened their established views of best practice. Hollins Martin and Bull (2006) showed that choice provision for childbearing women was difficult to provide because of the imposition of hospital protocols, the hierarchy and fears of challenging senior people. Acknowledging these identified constraints this paper poses eight plausible solutions to facilitate midwives with providing the choice that is advocated in social policy documents (Department of Health, 1993; DH, 2003; DH, 2004).

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