The Provision of Antenatal Care for Low Risk Pregnant Women in the South Eastern Region of Ireland: A Mixed Methods Study [Volume 1]

Annette Cullen-Murphy

Research output: Types of ThesisDoctoral Thesis


Midwives are specialists in normal pregnancy and midwifery led care (MLC) is recommended as being the most appropriate type of care for low risk pregnant women. MLC offers a choice for birth at home or in hospital with total care provided by midwives. MLC provides continuity of care, choice, and develops trusting relationships. A pregnancy is considered ‘low risk’ if the woman is without pre-existing medical conditions or pregnancy complications. In Ireland, maternity services continue to utilise the medical led model of care which limits choice for women. This presents challenges for midwives in developing MLC and consequently women may not be aware of alternative choices and accessibility of these schemes. Whilst MLC initiatives have been established in some parts of Ireland, developments are slow in comparison to other countries. The aim of this research was to explore the perceptions of women and their care providers of the provision of antenatal care. This was achieved through a 3 Phase mixed methods design. Data collection involved a descriptive survey (n=394) and 12 focus groups involving pregnant women and multidisciplinary professionals. Data analysis used Predictive Analytics Software (PASW) and the focus groups were subjected to a content analysis framework. The study identified a lack of awareness and understanding of the concept of a ‘low risk’ pregnancy. Consequently, a lack of information and available options of care were identified by women and care providers. This lack of information led to feelings of disempowerment in relation to choice, communication and decision-making processes. Findings also demonstrated excessive waiting times and congested antenatal clinics. Further collaboration and communication is required between general practitioners and antenatal clinics to streamline future services for women. Recommendations include the development of group antenatal care to enhance access to MLC and decision-making processes that will offer more choice for women. Keywords: Antenatal care services; low risk pregnant women; provision of information; access to care; decision making.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Gooney, Martina, Supervisor
  • Sheahan, Linda, Supervisor
  • Chesser-Smyth, Patricia, Supervisor
Publication statusUnpublished - 2014


  • Antenatal care services, Low risk pregnant women


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