‘She convinced me’- partner involvement in choosing a high risk birth setting against medical advice in the Netherlands: A qualitative analysis

Martine Hollander, Esteriek de Miranda, Anne-Marike Smit, Irene de Graaf, Frank Vandenbussche, Jeroen van Dillen, Lianne Holten

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Home births in high risk pregnancies and unassisted childbirth seem to be increasing in the Netherlands. There is a lack of qualitative data on women’s partners’ involvement in these choices in the Dutch maternity care system, where integrated midwifery care and home birth are regular options in low risk pregnancies. The majority of available literature focuses on the women’s motivations, while the partner’s influence on these decisions is much less well understood. We aimed to examine partners’ involvement in the decision to birth outside the system, in order to provide medical professionals with insight and recommendations regarding their interactions with these partners in the outpatient clinic. An exploratory qualitative research design with a constructivist approach and a grounded theory method were used. In-depth interviews were performed with twenty-one partners on their involvement in the decision to go against medical advice in choosing a high risk childbirth setting. Open, axial and selective coding of the interview data was done in order to generate themes. Four main themes were found: 1) Talking it through, 2) A shared vision, 3) Defending our views, and 4) Doing it together. One overarching theme emerged that covered all other themes: ‘She convinced me’. These data show that the idea to choose a high risk birth setting almost invariably originated with the women, who did most of the research online, filtered the information and convinced the partners of the merit of their plans. Once the partners were convinced, they took a very active and supportive role in defending the plan to the outside world, as well as in preparing for the birth. Maternity care providers can use these findings in cases where there is a discrepancy between the wishes of the woman and the advice of the professional, so they can attempt to involve partners actively during consultations in pregnancy. That will ensure that partners also receive information on all options, risks and benefits of possible birth choices, and that they are truly in support of a final plan.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0229069
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2020

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