The experiences of midwives and women during intrapartum transfer from one-to-one midwife-led birth environments to obstetric-led units

Georgina A Sosa, Kenda E Crozier, Andrea Stockl

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)
32 Downloads (Pure)


Objective: To explore the transition from midwifery one-to-one support in labour within a midwife-led birth environment to an obstetricled unit from the perspectives of midwives and women.

Design: Ethnographic study. Data was collected from eleven transfers to an obstetric-led unit. The transfer process was observed for four women.

Semi-structured interviews were completed following the births with eleven women and eleven midwives. Nine maternity records were also analysed.

Setting: An alongside midwife-led unit, freestanding midwife-led unit, women's homes in England.

Findings: Territorial behaviour was the main theme experienced by midwives when transferring women to obstetric-led units. Territorial behaviour manifested itself as a feeling of 'us versus them' behaviours, 'feeling under scrutiny' and being aware of 'conflicting ideologies'.

For women there were four themes that had an impact on their experiences of transfer obstetric-led units including: (1) their midwife continuing the care on the labour ward, (2) having time to adjust to their new situation, (3) all staff introducing themselves and (4) not being separated from their baby for long periods of time.

Conclusion and implications for practice: Transfer from a midwife-led birth environment to an obstetric-led unit is a stressful situation for midwives and women. This paper highlights how territorial behaviours impacted negatively for midwives during transfer to an obstetric-led unit. More research is required to understand territorial behaviours within the maternity services and how more respectful compassionate working relationships can be created. Additionally, from the perspective of women this paper highlights four aspects of care that positively impacted on the experiences of women and even helped them to build resilience to cope with the change of location, situation, medical interventions and new carers when transferring to an obstetric-led unit.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)43-50
Early online date7 Jul 2018
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2018


  • One-to-one
  • 1:1
  • Midwifery
  • Transfer
  • Labour support
  • Ethnographic

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