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Author Notes:

Correspondence to Dr. Ibone Olza: iboneolza@gmail.com

All authors conceived and designed the study.

MN and PL-W organised and conducted the search.

IO, PL-W, YB, MNJ, EC-M, AS, MK, LT, MM and SSJ participated in the selection of the relevant articles.

IO and EC-M performed the quality assessment of the studies.

IO did the data extraction from the studies and drafted the manuscript.

IO, PL-W, YB, MNJ, AS, MK, SSJ, SIK, PJH and SD interpreted the results, critically revised the manuscript for important intellectual content, and contributed to and approved the final version.

MNJ, SD and PL-W supervised the project.

YB, PJH, SD, MK, PL-W, MNJ and IO made the changes and corrections suggested by the reviewers.

Competing interests: None declared.


Research Funding:

Eu cost action is 1405 birth: Building intrapartum research through health (http://www.cost.eu/COST_Actions/isch/IS1405).


  • Science & Technology
  • Life Sciences & Biomedicine
  • Medicine, General & Internal
  • General & Internal Medicine
  • TIME

Women's psychological experiences of physiological childbirth: a meta-synthesis

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Journal Title:

BMJ Open


Volume 8, Number 10


, Pages e020347-e020347

Type of Work:

Article | Final Publisher PDF


Re-use permitted under CC BY-NC. No commercial re-use. See rights and permissions. Published by BMJ. Objective To synthesise qualitative studies on women's psychological experiences of physiological childbirth. Design Meta-synthesis. Methods Studies exploring women's psychological experiences of physiological birth using qualitative methods were eligible. The research group searched the following databases: MEDLINE, CINAHL, PsycINFO, PsycARTICLES, SocINDEX and Psychology and Behavioural Sciences Collection. We contacted the key authors searched reference lists of the collected articles. Quality assessment was done independently using the Critical Appraisal Skills Programme (CASP) checklist. Studies were synthesised using techniques of meta-ethnography. Results Eight studies involving 94 women were included. Three third order interpretations were identified: 'maintaining self-confidence in early labour', 'withdrawing within as labour intensifies' and 'the uniqueness of the birth experience'. Using the first, second and third order interpretations, a line of argument developed that demonstrated 'the empowering journey of giving birth' encompassing the various emotions, thoughts and behaviours that women experience during birth. Conclusion Giving birth physiologically is an intense and transformative psychological experience that generates a sense of empowerment. The benefits of this process can be maximised through physical, emotional and social support for women, enhancing their belief in their ability to birth and not disturbing physiology unless it is necessary. Healthcare professionals need to take cognisance of the empowering effects of the psychological experience of physiological childbirth. Further research to validate the results from this study is necessary. PROSPERO registration number CRD42016037072.

Copyright information:

© Author(s) (or their employer(s)) 2018.

This is an Open Access work distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/).

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