City Research Online

How do women with social risk factors experience United Kingdom maternity care? A realist synthesis

Rayment‐Jones, H., Harris, J., Harden, A. , Khan, Z. & Sandall, J. (2019). How do women with social risk factors experience United Kingdom maternity care? A realist synthesis. Birth, 46(3), pp. 461-474. doi: 10.1111/birt.12446


Echoing international trends, the most recent United Kingdom reports of infant and maternal mortality found that pregnancies to women with social risk factors are over 50% more likely to end in stillbirth or neonatal death and carry an increased risk of premature birth and maternal death. The aim of this realist synthesis was to uncover the mechanisms that affect women's experiences of maternity care.

Using realist methodology, 22 papers exploring how women with a wide range of social risk factors experience maternity care in the United Kingdom were included. The data extraction process identified contexts (C), mechanisms (M), and outcomes (0).

Three themes, Resources, Relationships, and Candidacy, overarched eight CMO configurations. Access to services, appropriate education, interpreters, practical support, and continuity of care were particularly relevant for women who are unfamiliar with the United Kingdom system and those living chaotic lives. For women with experience of trauma, or those who lack a sense of control, a trusting relationship with a health care professional was key to regaining trust. Many women who have social care involvement during their pregnancy perceive health care services as a system of surveillance rather than support, impacting on their engagement. This, as well as experiences of paternalistic care and discrimination, could be mitigated through the ability to develop trusting relationships.

The findings provide underlying theory and practical guidance on how to develop safe services that aim to reduce inequalities in women's experiences and birth outcomes.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: © 2019 The Authors. Birth published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc.This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Publisher Keywords: experiences of care, maternity services, socioeconomic status and ethnicity
Subjects: R Medicine > RG Gynecology and obstetrics
R Medicine > RT Nursing
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences
SWORD Depositor:
[thumbnail of birt.12446.pdf]
Text - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons: Attribution International Public License 4.0.

Download (1MB) | Preview


Add to AnyAdd to TwitterAdd to FacebookAdd to LinkedinAdd to PinterestAdd to Email


Downloads per month over past year

View more statistics

Actions (login required)

Admin Login Admin Login