Accessibility statement

VIP: Voices in Partnership, Video-Informed Practice

Also known as:
Interactional practices of decision-making during childbirth in maternity units


We are researching decision-making in childbirth focusing on the talk that happens between staff, women in labour, and their birth partners when giving birth in maternity units. The research is based in two NHS trusts.

Service-user group

We are seeking maternity service users (for example, pregnant women, women who have recently given birth, and birth partners) to oversee this project. Their input will help us to carry out the study in a way which is acceptable to participants, and make sure that women and their families get to hear about our findings.

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About the research

UK Government policy states that women in labour should be involved in decisions about their care and treatment. We know what is said during labour matters for how women experience birth. However, policy recommendations to staff about how to communicate with women in labour are not based on evidence about what actually happens in birth. This is because most existing research is based on interviewing or surveying women some weeks after birth, so the details of what was said in labour are lost. We need research that provides details of actual talk about decisions during labour.

The results of the research are intended to:

  • Provide staff and women with detailed information about the effects of talk during labour. For example, consider the difference between, ‘we need to...', which suggests that a decision has already been made, and ‘how do you feel about...', which invites a woman’s view.
  • Inform and empower staff, women and birth partners to communicate in ways that promote choice.
  • Promoting the findings: Findings will be circulated to other healthcare staff through workshops and academic publications. We will share findings with women (and families) through relevant websites and organisations that inform pregnant women of their choices.

The research involves:

  • Video (or audio recordings), with consent, of the labours of 30 women.
  • Analysis of how decisions are discussed using Conversation Analysis, the leading research method for understanding how talk works.
  • Questionnaires asking women before birth about their expectations and after birth about their satisfaction. Looking at patterns between how satisfied women were with their experience and the kinds of talk that actually happened during birth.
  • We are also conducting one-to-one interviews with midwives and doctors to ask about what they think is helpful and unhelpful in giving women choice.

To help understand the viewpoint of our labouring women participants, patients and the public will be involved at all stages of our research. One of our research team is a member of the public and we will set up groups for other patients and the public to make sure that our information sheets and methods protect the interests of women in labour (and their birth partners).

Outputs and activities

Project details

  • Project starts
    1 March, 2017
  • Pilot ends
    30 June, 2018
  • Project ends
    29 February 2020
  • Funding scheme
    NIHR Health Services and Delivery Research
  • Grant Reference Number
    Annandale et al 14/70/73 
  • Ethical approval
    This project has been reviewed and approved by the South Yorkshire Research Ethics Committee.

Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust

Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust