Just Another Day in a Woman's Life? Women's Long-Term Perceptions of Their First Birth Experience. Part I


  • Based on a presentation given at the Ninth Birth Conference, “Innovations in Perinatal Care: Assessing Benefits and Risks,” Sun Francisco, 11–13 November 1990.

Address correspondence to the author, 1100 23rd Avenue East, Seattle, WA 98112.


ABSTRACT: This study explored and analyzed the long-term impact of the birth experience on a group of 20 women from the natural childbirth culture of the late 1960s and early 1970s. The data consisted of 1) a structured labor and birth questionnaire and an unstructured account of their experiences written shortly after their babies were born; 2) a similar questionnaire and account written 15 to 20 years later; and 3) a transcribed one- to one-and-a-half-hour interview during which each woman's memories and perceptions were discussed. Women reported that their memories were vivid and deeply felt. Those with highest long-term satisfaction ratings thought that they accomplished something important, that they were in control, and that the birth experience contributed to their self-confidence and self-esteem. They had positive memories of their doctors' and nurses' words and actions. These positive associations were not reported among women with lower satisfaction ratings.