Factors associated with women's birth beliefs and experiences of decision-making in the context of planned birth: A survey study.

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Journal Article
Midwifery, 2021, 96
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Objective In many high-income countries, approximately half of all births are now planned regarding timing, either by elective Caesarean Section (CS) or induction of labour (IOL). To what degree this is explained by women's birth beliefs and preferences, and in turn, factors such as parity and ethnicity that may influence them, is contentious. Within a broader study on Timing of Birth by planned CS or IOL, we aimed to explore the association between demographic and pregnancy factors, with women's birth beliefs and experiences of planned birth decision-making in late pregnancy. Design Survey study of women's birth beliefs and experiences of planned birth decision-making. Both univariate analysis and ordinal regression modelling was performed to examine the influence of; parity; cultural background; continuity of pregnancy care; CS or IOL; and whether CS was “recommended” or “requested”, on women's stated birth beliefs and decision-making experience. Setting 8 Sydney hospitals Participants Women planned to have an IOL or CS between November 2018-July 2019. Measurement The survey included four statements regarding birth beliefs and ten statements about experiences of decision-making on a 5-item Likert scale, as well as questions about demographic and pregnancy factors that might influence these beliefs. Findings Of 340 included surveys, 56% regarded IOL and 44% CS. Women indicated strong belief both that they should be supported to make decisions about their birth and that their doctor/midwife knows what is best for them (over 90% agreement for both). Regarding decision-making, over 90% also agreed they had trust in the person providing information, understood it, and had sufficient time for both questions and decision-making. However only 58% were provided written information, 19% felt they “didn't really have a choice”, and 9% felt pressure to make a decision. On both univariate and multivariate analysis, women having CS (versus IOL) expressed more positive views of their experience and involvement in decision-making, as did women experiencing a pregnancy continuity-of-care model. Women identifying as from a specific cultural or ethnic background expressed more negative experiences. On modelling, the studied factors accounted for only a small proportion of the variation in responses (3–19%). Conclusions Continuity of pregnancy care was associated with positive decision-making experiences and cultural background with more negative experiences. Women whose planned birth was IOL versus CS also reported more negative decision-making experiences. Implications for practice Attention to improving quality of information provision, including written information, to women having IOL and women of diverse background, is recommended to improve women's experiences of planned birth decision-making.
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