Cesarean childbirth and psychosocial outcomes: a meta-analysis

Health Psychol. 1996 Jul;15(4):303-14. doi: 10.1037//0278-6133.15.4.303.


A comprehensive literature review with meta-analysis examines the differences between vaginal and cesarean delivery on 23 psychosocial outcomes of childbirth. The most robust findings suggest that cesarean mothers, compared with mothers who delivered vaginally, expressed less immediate and long-term satisfaction with the birth, were less likely ever to breast-feed, experienced a much longer time to first interaction with their infants, had less positive reactions to them after birth, and interacted less with them at home. Some differences were also found between unplanned and planned cesarean sections; none were found between birthing methods for maternal confidence for infant caretaking soon after birth, maternal anxiety in the hospital and at home, maternal stress at home, maternal return to work, and continuation of breast-feeding once begun. Implications of these findings for theory, research, and childbirth practice are discussed.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Breast Feeding / psychology
  • Cesarean Section / adverse effects*
  • Cesarean Section / psychology*
  • Confidence Intervals
  • Family Health
  • Female
  • Fertility
  • Humans
  • Maternal Behavior*
  • Mother-Child Relations*
  • Mothers / psychology*
  • Postpartum Period / psychology
  • Pregnancy