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Is the Childbirth Experience Improved by a Birth Plan?

Authors

  • Ingela Lundgren RNM, MNSc, MPH, PhD,

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    • Ingela Lundgren, RNM, MNSc, MPH, PhD, is a nurse-midwife and lecturer at Borås College of Health Sciences, Borås, Sweden. Her research area is women's experiences of pregnancy and childbirth.

  • Marie Berg RNM, MNSc, MPH, PhD,

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    • Marie Berg, RNM, MNSc, MPH, PhD, is a nurse-midwife and lecturer at the Faculty of Health and Caring Sciences, The Sahlgrenska Academy at Göteborg University, Göteborg, Sweden. Her research area is childbirth experience in women at high risk.

  • Gunilla Lindmark MD, PhD

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    • Gunilla Lindmark, MD, PhD, is an obstetrician and professor of International Maternal and Child Health at the Department of Women's and Children's Health, Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden. Her main research area is evaluation of various aspects of maternal health care programs in Sweden and in developing country settings.


Address correspondence to Ingela Lundgren, Boras University College of Health Sciences, 501 90 Boras, Sweden.

Abstract

From antenatal clinics in Sweden, 271 women were recruited after week 33 of pregnancy and given a questionnaire designed to assess their attitudes and feelings about the coming childbirth. Thereafter, they formulated a birth plan. The midwife in attendance at the birth was able to refer to this plan. Women who followed this program were compared with women from the same clinics who were asked to complete a questionnaire during the first postpartum week to assess their birth experience. A questionnaire at the end of pregnancy, followed by a birth plan, was not effective in improving women's experiences of childbirth. In the birth plan group, women gave significantly lower scores for the relationship to the first midwife they met during delivery, with respect to listening and paying attention to needs and desires, support, guiding, and respect. Although a birth plan did not improve the experience of childbirth in the overall group, there may be beneficial effects with regard to fear, pain, and concerns about the newborn for certain subgroups of women.

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