Effect of birth plans on childbirth experience: A systematic review

Int J Nurs Pract. 2019 Aug;25(4):e12722. doi: 10.1111/ijn.12722. Epub 2019 Jan 24.


Aim: The birth plans were developed as an approach for pregnant women to present their expectations for labour and childbirth. The aim of this study was to assess whether birth plans (a written document in which pregnant women describe preferences about their care during labour and childbearing) compared with standard or routine approach (supine position, continuous fetal monitoring, enema, episiotomy) affect the birth experience (woman's perception of labour and childbirth as positive or negative experience) or satisfaction with birth.

Methods: This systematic review was performed by searching several databases, including Cochrane Library, Web of Science, MEDLINE, Embase, CINAHL, Scopus, PsycINFO, ACP Journal Club, Google Scholar, and Persian databases (SID, Magiran, and Barakat) up to February 10, 2018.

Results: By searching the databases, 1006 published articles were found, of which 480 and 114 articles were excluded by review of the titles and the abstracts, respectively. Finally, we included three clinical trials (1132 women) in the review. The results of two study showed that the mean score of birth experience in the birth plan group was significantly higher than the control group (P ≤ 0.01). However, the results of a study showed that there were no statistically significant differences between birth plan and control groups (P > 0.05). Quality of included studies was very low.

Conclusions: There is not enough evidence to support or refute that birth plan can improve the birth experience or satisfaction with birth.

Keywords: birth experience; birth plan; satisfaction; systematic review.

Publication types

  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Delivery, Obstetric*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Labor, Obstetric*
  • Parturition*
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Care / organization & administration*