We employed grounded theory to explain how Canadian pregnant women and care providers manage birth. The sample comprised 9 pregnant women and 56 intrapartum care providers (family doctors, midwives, nurses, obstetricians, and doulas [individuals providing labor support]). We collected data from 2008 to 2009, using focus groups that included care providers and pregnant women. Using concurrent data collection and analysis, we generated the core category: minimizing risk while maximizing integrity. Women and providers used strategies to minimize risk and maximize integrity, which included accepting or resisting recommendations for surveillance and recommendations for interventions, and plotting courses vs. letting events unfold. Strategies were influenced by evidence, relationships, and local health cultures, and led to feelings of weakness or strength, confidence or uncertainty, and differing power- and responsibility-sharing arrangements. The findings highlight difficulties resisting surveillance and interventions in a risk-adverse culture, and the need for attention to processes of giving birth.
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