Primigravid women's views of being approached to participate in a hypothetical term cephalic trial of planned vaginal birth versus planned cesarean birth

Birth. 2009 Sep;36(3):213-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1523-536X.2009.00325.x.


Background: Several papers have called for a trial of planned cesarean section versus planned vaginal birth for low-risk women-a recommendation that is fiercely debated. Although proponents of a trial have voiced their support, evidence suggests that in the United Kingdom few midwives and obstetricians believe such a trial to be feasible, and no studies reporting women's views on the prospect of such a trial have been published. The purpose of this study is to explore women's views of participation in a trial of planned cesarean birth versus planned vaginal birth.

Methods: A qualitative study was conducted using in-depth interviews in a large maternity hospital in the United Kingdom. Sixty-four women were interviewed 12 months after giving birth. Women were asked "How do you think you would have felt if you had been approached to take part in such a trial during your first pregnancy?" Data were analyzed thematically.

Results: Only 3 of the 64 women stated that they would have participated in a trial of planned vaginal birth versus planned cesarean section, had they been asked. However, five other women said that they would have consented to participate if they had been asked during pregnancy, but with hindsight, would have regretted that decision. The remainder of women would not have participated, unless a preference arm was offered. Three main themes were identified: "feeling cheated," "let nature take its course," and "just another trauma that you don't need."

Conclusions: Few women supported a trial and most suggested that it was intuitively wrong. Given the strong views voiced by women, it is unlikely that a trial of planned vaginal delivery versus planned cesarean delivery would be feasible.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cesarean Section / ethics
  • Cesarean Section / psychology*
  • Choice Behavior / ethics
  • Dissent and Disputes
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Female
  • Gravidity*
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Middle Aged
  • Nursing Methodology Research
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care / psychology*
  • Patient Care Planning
  • Patient Selection* / ethics
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnant Women / psychology*
  • Qualitative Research
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic / ethics
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic / psychology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United Kingdom
  • Unnecessary Procedures / psychology