PURPOSE: The purpose of this systematic review of the literature is to look at the current evidence of the psychological experience of physiological childbirth.
BACKGROUND: Childbirth is a dynamic process in which the fetal and maternal physiology interacts with the woman's psychosocial context, yet this process is predominantly evaluated using objective, physical measures. Simultaneously, childbirth is also a profound psychological experience with a deep impact in women that is physical, psychological, and social. The description of the psychological processes and experiences that happen during physiological childbirth will likely improve the care women receive during childbirth as health care professionals and carers will have a greater understanding of the process.
METHODS/DESIGN: The electronic databases MEDLINE, Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature (CINAHL), PsycINFO, PsycARTICLES, SocINDEX, and Psychology and Behavioral Sciences Collection will be searched using the EBSCOhost platform to identify studies that meet the inclusion criteria. No language or publication date constraints will be applied. Articles that pass the 3-stage screening process will then be assessed for risk of bias and have their reference lists hand searched.
DISCUSSION: By synthesizing the results of the studies, this systematic review will help illuminate gaps in the literature, direct future research, and inform policymakers.