The role of birth plans for shared decision-making around birth choices of pregnant women in maternity care: A scoping review

Naaz Shareef*, Naomi Scholten, Marianne Nieuwenhuijze, Claire Stramrood, Marieke de Vries, Jeroen van Dillen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journal(Systematic) Review article peer-review


BACKGROUND: Birth plans can be used to facilitate shared decision-making in childbirth. A birth plan is a document reflecting women's preferences for birth, which they discuss with their maternity care provider.

AIM: This scoping review aims to synthesize current findings on the role of birth plans for shared decision-making around birth choices of pregnant women in maternity care.

METHODS: We conducted a scoping review using the Joanna Briggs Institute three-step search strategy in multiple databases PubMed, EMBASE, CINAHL, Web of Science, PsycINFO. We synthesized the results using a metasynthesis approach to identify themes and subthemes.

RESULTS: From the 21 articles included, five themes were identified: birth plan as a tool for shared decision-making, autonomy, sense of control, professionalism of the care provider, and trust. Primarily, midwives seemed to use birth plans to explore and facilitate women's choices around birth. Other healthcare providers involved in studies were obstetricians and nurses. The interrelationship between care providers and women, the attitude of care providers and women towards each other and the birth plan, and how providers and women use the birth plan influence shared decision-making.

DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSION: Birth plans can facilitate shared decision-making, and women's sense of autonomy and control before, during, and after giving birth. When discussing the birth plan, exploring different scenarios may help women prepare for unforeseen circumstances. This will likely facilitate shared decision-making even if the birth process is not unfolding as hoped for.

Original languageEnglish
JournalWomen and Birth
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 1 Dec 2022

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