The characteristics of women using different forms of botanical medicines to manage pregnancy-related health conditions: A preliminary cross-sectional analysis

Publisher:
Elsevier
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Citation:
Advances in Integrative Medicine, 2014, 1 (3), pp. 138 - 143
Issue Date:
2014-12
Full metadata record
Objective: To ascertain the attitudes, perceptions and characteristics of women who used varying forms of botanical medicine (herbal extracts and tinctures, herbal teas, aromatherapy oils) during pregnancy, birth and lactation. Methods: Longitudinal data from a sub-study of women (n = 2445) from the Australian Longitudinal Study of Women's Health (ALSWH) was analysed for the characteristics of women who used only one form of botanical medicine (herbal extracts and tinctures, herbal teas or aromatherapy oils), Fisher's exact tests were used to compare categorical variables due to the small cell numbers of the individual categories. A modified Bonferroni correction was used to compensate for multiple testing. All analyses were performed using Stata 11.1 and statistical significance was set at p = 0.05. Results: Women who held private health insurance were more likely to consult with an acupuncturist or naturopath for pregnancy-related health conditions and use herbal extracts and tinctures rather than herbal teas or aromatherapy oils. Women who used herbal extracts and tinctures also reported higher rates of epidural use and were more likely to initiate breastfeeding than those using aromatherapy oils. Women who used herbal teas were more likely to discuss their expectations of their birth with a general practitioner than a midwife and use birthing pools, baths or showers as intrapartum pain management. Women who used herbal teas were also more likely to initiate breastfeeding than those choosing aromatherapy, and moreover, continue breastfeeding for more than 6 months. Women who showed a preference for breathing techniques as intrapartum pain management were more likely to use aromatherapy rather than herbal extracts, tinctures or teas during pregnancy. Conclusions: Our analysis is a preliminary insight into an as yet unassessed aspect of maternity care. More in-depth investigation of the characteristics of women who choose to use herbal medicines, teas and aromatherapy during pregnancy would be beneficial to policy makers and health care professionals to provide safe, effective maternity care.
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