Childbirth satisfaction and perceptions of control: postnatal psychological implications
Satisfaction with childbirth is associated with a number of factors prior to and during birth, including perceived control during labour, and has implications for postnatal psychological health.
A total of 38 pregnant women recruited prior to 20-weeks gestation completed questionnaires regarding perceptions of control during, and satisfaction with, childbirth, mental health and maternal attachment at two-months postpartum. Birth details and breastfeeding difficulties were obtained from hospital records.
Satisfaction with childbirth was associated with perceived control and a physiological birth, and perceived control was associated with a physiological birth and midwife-led continuity of care. At two-months postpartum, satisfaction with childbirth was associated with fewer depressive symptoms, while perceived control was associated with fewer anxiety symptoms.
It is important for healthcare providers to implement practices that support birthing satisfaction, such as provision of midwife-led continuity of care. Healthcare provision should also provide psychological support to mothers whose birthing experience was unsatisfactory and tailor additional support during early breastfeeding for these women.
The safe delivery of a healthy baby is a critical priority in perinatal care. However, maternal satisfaction also remains an important outcome, as it has the potential to influence psychological functioning and the mother-infant relationship (Goodman et al, 2004). Satisfaction with childbirth is a cognitive evaluation of the fit between a woman's personal preferences and her actual birth experience (Stevens et al, 2012). Such satisfaction is associated with a number of factors including participation in antenatal education (Phipps et al, 2009), positive expectations for the birth experience (Maggioni et al, 2006), a fit between expectations for the birthing experience and the actual birthing experience (Green et al, 1990), and maternal personality, including big five personality, coping and childbirth expectations (Catala et al, 2019).
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