Objective: The Maternity Experiences Survey (MES) is an initiative of the Canadian Perinatal Surveillance System. Its primary objective is to provide representative, pan-Canadian data on women's experiences during pregnancy, birth, and the early postpartum period.
Methods: The development of the survey involved input from a multidisciplinary study group, an extensive consultation process and two pilot studies. TheMES population consisted of birth mothers 15 years of age and over who had a singleton live birth in Canada during a three-month period preceding the 2006 Canadian Census of Population and who lived with their infants at the time of data collection. Experiences of teenage, immigrant, First Nations, Inuit, and Métis mothers were of particular interest. The sample was drawn from the 2006 Canadian Census. A 45-minute interview was conducted at five to 14 months postpartum, primarily by telephone by female professional Statistics Canada interviewers.
Results: A response rate of 78% was achieved, corresponding to 6421 women who were weighted to represent an estimated 76508 women. The cooperation rate was 92% and the refusal rate was 1.0%. Item non-response was low, and few data errors were identified. The final MES sample was judged to be representative of the corresponding Census population for all characteristics investigated.
Conclusion: The MES marks an important milestone in the availability of information on maternity experiences in Canada. For the first time, it is possible to provide high quality data at national, provincial, and territorial levels on a wide spectrum of maternity experiences as reported by women.