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Developing a woman?centered, inclusive definition of positive childbirth experiences: A discussion paper


Julia Leinweber

Sigfridur Inga Karlsdottir


Christina Nilsson

Claire Stramrood

Gill Thomson


Introduction: A positive childbirth experience promotes women’s health, both during and beyond the perinatal period. Understanding what constitutes a positive childbirth experience is thus critical to providing high-quality maternity care. Currently, there is no clear, inclusive, woman-centered definition of a positive childbirth experience to guide practice, education, and research.

Aim: To formulate an inclusive woman-centered definition of a positive childbirth experience.

Methods: A six-step process was undertaken: (a) Key concepts associated with a positive childbirth were derived from a rapid literature review; (b) The key concepts were used by interdisciplinary experts in the author group to create a draft definition; (c) The draft definition was presented to clinicians and researchers during a European research meeting on perinatal mental health; (d) The authors integrated the expert feedback to refine the working definition; (e) A revised definition was shared with women from consumer groups in six countries to confirm its face validity; and (f) A final definition was formulated based on the women’s feedback (n = 42).

Results: The following definition was formulated: “A positive childbirth experience refers to a woman’s experience of interactions and events directly related to childbirth that made her feel supported, in control, safe, and respected; a positive childbirth can make women feel joy, confident, and/or accomplished and may have short and/or long-term positive impacts on a woman’s psychosocial well-being.”

Conclusions: This inclusive, woman-centered definition highlights the importance of provider interactions for facilitating a positive childbirth experience. Feeling supported and having a sense of control, safety, and respect are central tenets. This definition could help to identify and validate positive childbirth experience(s), and to inform practice, education, research, advocacy, and policy-making.


Leinweber, J., Fontein‐Kuipers, Y., Karlsdottir, S. I., Ekström‐Bergström, A., Nilsson, C., Stramrood, C., & Thomson, G. (in press). Developing a woman‐centered, inclusive definition of positive childbirth experiences: A discussion paper. Birth,

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jun 15, 2022
Online Publication Date Jul 5, 2022
Deposit Date Jul 5, 2022
Publicly Available Date Jul 6, 2022
Journal Birth
Print ISSN 0730-7659
Electronic ISSN 1523-536X
Publisher Wiley
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Keywords Childbirth experience, definition, positive childbirth, provider interactions, subjective, woman-centred
Public URL


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