Women's empowerment in pregnancy and childbirth: A concept analysis

Midwifery. 2019 Nov:78:1-7. doi: 10.1016/j.midw.2019.07.015. Epub 2019 Jul 15.


Background: Empowerment is expected to have a beneficial effect on a woman's well-being during the perinatal period and her readiness to face the challenges of motherhood. In the literature on pregnancy and childbirth, empowerment is used widely in different contexts, with different connotations and often without a definition, thus indicating a lack of clarity of what is actually meant by the concept.

Objective: To report an analysis of the concept of women's empowerment in the context of the perinatal period.

Methods: We used the concept analysis framework of Walker and Avant to analyse the concept of women's empowerment during pregnancy and childbirth. In July 2018, we did a systematic search in EBSCOhost, including the database MEDLINE, CINAHL, PsycINFO, PsycARTICLES and SocINDEX, using keywords: empower, women, childbirth and their synonyms. All selected papers were analysed for definitions of empowerment, defining attributes, antecedents and consequences.

Results: Ninety-seven scientific papers from all continents were included in the analysis. Defining attributes, antecedents, consequences and empirical referents are discussed, and a model case as well as related and contrary cases are presented.

Conclusion: Attributes, external and internal to the woman, were identified. Both types of attributes need to be considered within the broader socio-cultural-economic-political landscape of the individual woman, in conjunction with a woman's belief in herself and her meaningful interconnectedness with carers.

Relevance: This study resulted in an understanding of empowerment in the context of pregnancy and childbirth that can be used in research and for the development of interventions preparing women for childbirth and their subsequent transition to motherhood.

Keywords: Childbirth; Concept analysis; Empowerment; Perinatal period; Women.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Parturition / psychology*
  • Patient Participation / methods
  • Patient Participation / psychology*
  • Pregnancy