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Perceptions and Practice of Waterbirth: A Survey of Georgia Midwives

Authors

  • Shaunette L. Meyer MA,

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    • Shaunette L. Meyer, MA, completed this research study during her nursing degree at Emory University, Atlanta, GA. She is currently attending the University of Colorado at Denver to receive her MS in Midwifery.

  • Christopher M. Weible PhD,

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    • Christopher M. Weible, PhD, is a professor at the School of Public Affairs of the University of Colorado at Denver.

  • Kate Woeber CNM, MPH

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    • Kate Woeber, CNM, MPH, is a clinical instructor at Emory University, Atlanta, GA.


Denver School of Public Affairs, 1380 Lawrence St., Suite 500, Denver, CO 80217. E-mail: Shaunette.Meyer@ucdenver.edu

Abstract

This study investigated the experience and perceptions of Georgia certified nurse-midwives about waterbirth and their level of support for establishing waterbirth in their work setting. A survey was distributed to a convenience sample of 119 certified nurse-midwives from the American College of Nurse Midwives, Georgia chapter; 45% of those surveyed responded. The majority of midwives had some exposure to waterbirth through self-education or through clinical practice. More than half supported the incorporation of waterbirth in their workplace setting. Maternal relaxation and reduced use of analgesia were perceived as the greatest benefit of waterbirth. Of 11 items related to disadvantages of waterbirth, certified nurse-midwives were moderately to severely concerned about none. The most concerning factors, with a mean of 2.4 to 2.5 on a scale of 1 (no worry) to 5 (severe worry), were maintenance of water temperature, physical stress on the midwife, and inability to see the perineum. Midwives' support for waterbirth focused mostly on the perceived benefits to the mother with little worry about the risks.

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