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The Birth Experience Study - UK (BESt -UK)

There is a growing recognition of the profound impact of the birth experience on individuals' immediate and long-term outcomes. However, the UK maternity system currently faces challenges in service delivery, characterized by a rise in medicalization leading to 'overtreatment' alongside instances of inadequate care or 'undertreatment,' particularly affecting Black, Asian, and minoritised communities. Compounded by the strains of COVID-19 on already stretched healthcare resources and persistent retention issues in midwifery and obstetrics, these structural issues have contributed to negative impacts on maternity care provision in the UK.

Additionally, these structural issues have been linked to both birth trauma and obstetric violence . Birth trauma occurs for a range of reasons but increasingly, evidence suggests the care (or lack thereof) from a health provider is an influential factor. Obstetric violence is a broad term that includes disrespectful care, mistreatment, abuse or coercion during the perinatal period by a maternity professional. Therefore, with a ‘structural’ lens we are seeking to understand contemporary childbirth experiences to explore birth trauma, obstetric violence and what works well.

Through a co-produced survey (with translations), this study is the UK arm of an international investigation led by Dr Hazel Keedle and Prof Hannah Dahlen in Australia.


Originally developed in Australia, the Birth Experience Study (BESt) has been replicated in 13 countries around the world including Taiwan, Denmark, Sweden, Japan, China and Zambia. This project forms the UK arm and aims to explore:

  • The factors that contribute to a good or bad birth experience.
  • The prevalence of birth trauma and obstetric violence.
  • How different models of care impact women and birthing people’s childbirth experiences.

Our Partners

Project status: Starting
Birth Experience Study -UK logo

Principal Investigator


Funding Body: Florence Nightingale Faculty of Nursing, Midwifery & Palliative Care

Amount: £16,100.12

Period: February 2024 - August 2024

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