Why do women request caesarean section in a normal, healthy first pregnancy?

Fenwick, Jennifer, Staff, Lynne, Gamble, Jenny, Creedy, Debra K. and Bayes, Sara (2010) Why do women request caesarean section in a normal, healthy first pregnancy?. Midwifery, 26 4: 394-400. doi:10.1016/j.midw.2008.10.011

Author Fenwick, Jennifer
Staff, Lynne
Gamble, Jenny
Creedy, Debra K.
Bayes, Sara
Title Why do women request caesarean section in a normal, healthy first pregnancy?
Journal name Midwifery   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0266-6138
Publication date 2010-08-01
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1016/j.midw.2008.10.011
Open Access Status Not yet assessed
Volume 26
Issue 4
Start page 394
End page 400
Total pages 7
Place of publication Kidlington, United Kingdom
Publisher Churchill Livingstone
Language eng
Formatted abstract
Background and context: a growing number of childbearing women are reported to prefer a caesarean section in the absence of a medical reason. Qualitative research describing factors influencing this preference in pregnant women is lacking.
Objective: to describe Australian women's request for caesarean section in the absence of medical indicators in their first pregnancy.
Design: advertisements were placed in local newspapers inviting women to participate in a telephone interview exploring women's experience of caesarean section. Thematic analysis was used to analyse data.
Setting: two states of Australia: Queensland and Western Australia.
Participants: a community sample of women (n=210) responded to the advertisements. This paper presents the findings elicited from interviews conducted with 14 women who requested a caesarean section during their first pregnancy in the absence of a known medical indication.
Findings: childbirth fear, issues of control and safety, and a devaluing of the female body and birth process were the main themes underpinning women's requests for a non-medically-indicated caesarean section. Women perceived that medical discourses supported and reinforced their decision as a ‘safe’ and ‘responsible’ choice.
Key conclusions and recommendations for practice: these findings assist women and health professionals to better understand how childbirth can be constructed as a fearful event. In light of the evidence about the risks associated with surgical birth, health-care professionals need to explore these perceptions with women and develop strategies to promote women's confidence and competence in their ability to give birth naturally.
Keyword Childbirth
Caesarean section
Decision making
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Institutional Status Non-UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
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