A concept analysis of watchful waiting among providers caring for women in labour




This paper is a report of an analysis of the concept of watchful waiting.


Little is known about differences between the intrapartum care processes of midwives and physicians. In this time of growing rates of surgical birth outcomes, intrapartum care processes are a key area for research and improvement. Watchful waiting is a common care plan used by both midwives and physicians that involves the timing of interventions in labour.


Rodgers' Evolutionary Model was used to conduct a concept analysis of the term watchful waiting.

Data sources

Scientific literature authored by, and about, midwives and physicians, as located via an intrapartum-focused database search inclusive of years 1922–May 2012. Thirty English-language articles from nine different countries were located, representing the midwifery and physician scientific literature focusing on watchful waiting in labour and provider decision-making processes.

Review method

Attributes, consequences, antecedents and affecting themes were identified through a thematic analysis of the identified articles.


Data analysis reveals that many midwives and physicians define watchful waiting differently, based on their philosophies of care.


The care of women in labour is complicated as a result of different understandings by some providers of common processes of intrapartum care.