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Number of antenatal visits and women's opinion

Authors

  • Ingegerd Hildingsson,

    Corresponding author
    1. From the Department of Nursing, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, and
    2. Department of Caring and Public Health Sciences, Mälardalens University, Västerås, Sweden
      *Ingegerd Hildingsson
      Gamla Karlebyvägen 22 E
      S-87133 Härnösand
      Sweden
      e-mail: ingegerd.hildingsson@mdh.se
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  • Ingela Rådestad,

    1. Department of Caring and Public Health Sciences, Mälardalens University, Västerås, Sweden
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  • Ulla Waldenström

    1. From the Department of Nursing, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, and
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*Ingegerd Hildingsson
Gamla Karlebyvägen 22 E
S-87133 Härnösand
Sweden
e-mail: ingegerd.hildingsson@mdh.se

Abstract

Background.  The national recommendation in Sweden regarding number of antenatal care visits was reduced in 1996. The aim of this study was to explore the factors associated with number of visits made and with women's own opinions about these visits. Another aim was to study associations between the number of visits and satisfaction with antenatal care overall.

Methods.  All Swedish-speaking women who came for their first visit to the midwife in 593 participating clinics during 3 weeks evenly spread over 1 year in 1999–2000 were invited to participate in the study. Information was collected by postal questionnaires after the booking visit and 2 months after childbirth. Cases of preterm delivery and intrauterine death were excluded.

Results.  After excluding miscarriages, non-Swedish-speaking women, and women booked at non-participating clinics, about 69% of all women booked in antenatal care were recruited. Of these, 2421 (83%) completed the two questionnaires. About 25% followed the standard visiting schedule for a normal pregnancy, 57% made more visits, and 17% fewer visits. The number of visits made was associated with parity, medical diagnosis, depressive symptoms, level of education, and women's preferences in early pregnancy. Women's own opinion that they made too few visits was associated with a preference for more visits in early pregnancy and actually receiving fewer visits than the standard schedule. The view that they made too many visits was associated with a previous negative birth experience, a wish for fewer visits, having a medical diagnosis, many children, and major worries. The vast majority of women (87.6%) were satisfied with antenatal care overall but less with emotional (76.9%) than with medical (82.3%) aspects. No association was found between number of visits made and satisfaction, but women's own opinion that they had too few visits was associated with dissatisfaction with medical as well as emotional aspects of care and the opinion that they made too many visits with the emotional aspects of care.

Conclusion.  Two-thirds of the women did not follow the standard visiting schedule, the majority of women made more visits. The number of antenatal visits seemed to be fairly well adapted to women's individual needs and, to some extent, to their own wishes. Very few women were dissatisfied with the number of visits made as well as the antenatal care overall.

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