In this column, a woman describes her concern that her childbirth classes did not provide the information she needed to make informed decisions during labor and birth. The results of the Listening to Mothers II survey suggest that this experience is not unusual. Although most women (97%) who participated in the survey wanted to know all or most of the potential risks of epidural, induction, and cesarean before consenting to have the intervention, the majority-including mothers who had experienced the intervention, women who were experienced mothers, and women who had attended childbirth classes-did not know the complications of induction or cesarean. These findings raise important questions about the outcomes of childbirth education. The factors that may contribute to these findings are discussed, and suggestions are made for insuring that women have the knowledge they need to make informed decisions about their maternity care.
Keywords: Listening to Mothers II; cesarean; childbirth education; epidural; induction; informed decision-making; knowledge.