Speaking out! Qualitative insights on the experience of mothers who wanted a vaginal birth after a birth by cesarean section

Patient. 2010 Mar 1;3(1):25-32. doi: 10.2165/11318810-000000000-00000.


Background: : Despite the documented rise in the rates of births by cesarean section (CS) in Australia, there is scant work on the psycho-social aspects of such birth choices. To address the lack of research on this topic, this article presents a subset of findings from a research project that explored, from the mothers' perspectives, the birthing experience and process of decision making about the mode of delivery for a subsequent birth after a previous CS.

Objective: : The focus of this article is on the subset of findings that recorded the frustration of women who valued a vaginal delivery but who delivered by CS.

Methods: : The study utilized descriptive phenomenology, with in-depth, open-ended interviews conducted with the research participants. The setting was a small regional hospital in Queensland, Australia, with about 20% of patients managed on the midwifery model of care. This article is based on the subset of findings that record the frustration of women (eight mothers of a total participant group of 20) who valued a vaginal delivery but who delivered by CS. The women all had a previous CS and had a subsequent birth at the Redland Hospital 6 weeks prior to the interviews, which were held in June 2008.

Results: : The findings establish that this group of mothers felt frustrated by their body's inability to give birth naturally, disappointed that they had no option but a CS, and carried emotional pain about the unfairness of the judgment that they should have achieved a vaginal birth after a birth by CS.

Conclusions: : These women expressed a strong desire to have their story told. It is the hope and expectation that this article will enable their voice to be heard and, in so doing, make a contribution towards deepening our understanding of the multiplicity of perspectives that women bring to their birthing experiences. The findings are a strong argument against any generalization that women who opt for an elective CS are doing so simply for reasons of ease and convenience.