Social support and its impact on mothers’experiences of childbirth

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Abstract

The purpose of this study was to look at the networks of social support available for mothers during pregnancy and childbirth Another concern was to describe mothers' experiences of labour and the connections of social support with those experiences The data were collected through the use of two questionnaires submitted to 200 mothers recruited from Tampere University Hospital Both instruments - Norbeck's Social Support Questionnaire and a scale designed by the author - were based on Kahn's (1979) theory of social support The mothers reported an average of seven support persons each Most typically, these were the mother's spouse or partner and close friends and relatives The network of social support is a major source of emotional support, aid and affirmation for the mothers During labour the main source of emotional support for mothers was the midwife For the vast majority (85%) of the mothers, childbirth was a positive experience A significant association was found between the emotional support provided by midwives and mothers' positive experiences of childbirth

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