ABSTRACT: In mid-1979 a two-part survey was distributed to 308 U.S. obstetrics and gynecology (OB/GYN) residency directors and to the prepared childbirth patient education programs at affiliated hospitals. The study was designed to examine the emphasis placed on teaching obstetrical psychoprophylaxis to pregnant patients and to the resident physicians who care for them during labor. After two separate mailings, approximately one-half of the programs responded. Fifty-five percent of the responding residency program directors felt that more emphasis was needed in teaching prepared childbirth methods to residents, while approximately two-thirds stated that relaxation and breathing principles were included in their curriculum, but education about such subjects is generally acquired informally while patients are already in labor.
Our results indicate that there are some important differences in subject matter between what prepared childbirth educators impart to patients and what OB/GYN program directors state that residents are taught. It is not known to what extent these differences hinder patients from applying what they have learned or whether the systematic exposure of residents to prepared childbirth education would actually prove to be beneficial. Other unresolved issues include the evaluation of current methods used by residents to learn prepared childbirth education informally on the ward and whether more orientation to these topics for residents is a reasonable expectation.