• cesarean section;
  • maternity experiences

Abstract:  Background:  Many publications have examined the reasons behind the rising cesarean delivery rate around the world. Women’s responses to the Maternity Experiences Survey of the Canadian Perinatal Surveillance System were examined to explore correlates of having a cesarean section on other experiences surrounding labor, birth, mother-infant contact, and breastfeeding.

Methods:  A randomly selected sample of 8,244 estimated eligible women stratified primarily by province and territory was drawn from the May 2006 Canadian Census. Completed responses were obtained from 6,421 women (78%).

Results:  Three-quarters of the women (73.7%) gave birth vaginally and 26.3 percent by cesarean section, including 13.5 percent with a planned cesarean and 12.8 percent with an unplanned cesarean. In addition to more interventions in labor, women who had a cesarean birth after attempting a vaginal birth had less mother-infant contact after birth and less optimal breastfeeding practices.

Conclusion:  Findings from the Maternity Experiences Survey indicated that women who have cesarean births experience more interventions during labor and birth and have less optimal birthing and early parenting outcomes. (BIRTH 37:1 March 2010)