Nottingham Maternity Research Network
University of Nottingham

Mother's and midwives' perspectives on the potential use of video-calling during early labour


This project has been discussed with Network members, with contributions to study design, focus group topic guide, findings and recommendations for practice and future research. We received very helpful feedback which shaped the study throughout, from its outset to dissemination of findings.
Dr. Sara Borrelli
Early labour is often a time of uncertainty and discomfort for women whilst at home.  Delay to maternity unit admission is typically encouraged, but women may find this challenging without appropriate professional support. Telephone assessment during early labour, the current norm in many settings, has been found to be a source of dissatisfaction for women and may present challenges for midwives. 

The aim of this research was to explore midwives’ and mothers’ perspectives and expectations on using video calls during early labour in the United Kingdom and Italy. We conducted a qualitative study undertaking online focus group discussions with 37 mothers and 36 midwives from both countries. T

he findings show that mothers and midwives from both contexts responded positively to the concept of video-calling in early labour. Guidance, information on coping with pain and advice on timely access in early labour was perceived as key. Participants highlighted the importance of accessible, reliable and user-friendly technology. Appropriate training and support tools for midwives was perceived as essential for virtual care provision. Equitable access, technological literacy, acceptability and privacy were considered as challenges to implementation, with solutions proposed to overcome disparities. 

Our suggestions for good practice are that guidance and training should be provided to midwives, with designated resources to build a service that is accessible, acceptable, safe, individualised and respectful for mothers and birth companions. Future research should evaluate the effectiveness of the actual implementation of a video-call service in early labour.

This study was funded by The Burdett Trust for Nursing (Small Grants Programme).


Borrelli S, Downey J, Colciago E, Fumagalli S, Nespoli A, Spiby PH. Mothers' perspectives on the potential use of video-calling during early labour in the United Kingdom and Italy: A qualitative study. Women Birth. 2023 Jan 20:S1871-5192(23)00017-3. doi: 10.1016/j.wombi.2023.01.004. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 36682951.

Findings from our earlier research about video-calls and early labour are also published and available online.

Spiby H, Faucher MA, Sands G, Roberts J and Kennedy HP, 2019. A qualitative study of midwives' perceptions on using video-calling in early labor. Birth 46(1): 105-112. Open access version available here.

Nottingham Maternity Research Network

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