Objective: To determine the factors that predict women’s perceptions of the childbirth experience and to examine whether these vary with the type of birth a woman experiences.
Design: Prospective cohort study.
Setting: The postpartum units of two eastern Canadian hospitals.
Participants: Six hundred fifty two women and their newborns.
Data Collection: Data were collected in hospital at 12 to 48 hours postpartum using self-report questionnaires and chart review.
Main Outcome Measure: Perception of the childbirth experience was measured for women having a vaginal and emergency cesarean birth using the Questionnaire Measuring Attitudes About Labor and Delivery and planned cesarean birth using the Modified Questionnaire Measuring Attitudes About Labor and Delivery.
Results: Of the 20 predictors of women’s childbirth perceptions, the strongest were type of birth; degree of awareness, relaxation, and control; helpfulness of partner support; and being together with the infant following birth.
Conclusions: Of the predictors of a quality birth experience, most were amenable to nursing interventions: enhancement of patient awareness, relaxation, and control; promotion of partner support; and provision of immediate opportunities for women to be with their babies.