Mode of delivery and traumatic birth experience – the role of the midwife. A qualitative pilot study
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National School of Public Health, Athens, Greece
Submission date: 2023-05-30
Acceptance date: 2023-05-30
Publication date: 2023-06-28
Corresponding author
Maria Kyrou   

National School of Public Health, 196 Alexandras Avenue, Athens, 115 21, Greece
ΕΛΕΥΘΩ 2023;22(2):7
Labor and childbirth are highly emotional experiences and if perceived as acute stressors, they can become traumatic and lead to post-traumatic stress disorder. The traumatic nature of childbirth can also affect partner, who witnesses the distressing labor. A traumatic birth experience can give rise to various difficulties.Stress factors during labor can range from life-threatening situations to perceived threats, including loss of control, loss of dignity, negative environments, sense of fear, loss of control,terror.

This study employed a pilot qualitative research design. Interviews were conducted using a questionnaire divided into three parts. The interviews were conducted between January 2018 and March 2018. Thirteen women who had given birth to their first child via cesarean section participated in the study. These women subsequently attempted to have a vaginal birth for their second child. All participants adhered to the criteria for attempting vaginal birth after cesarean, as outlined by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. All women completed the questionnaire.

The findings indicate that nearly half of the women experienced their first labor as a traumatic event. This traumatic birth experience led to difficulties with bonding, breastfeeding, and overall psychological well-being in the postpartum period. Additionally, the role of midwives was found to be crucial in shaping the birth experience.

The study concludes that birth experiences can become traumatic when stress factors, such as loss of control, lack of respect, insufficient informed consent, hostile environments, and lack of support, are present. Regardless of the mode of delivery (cesarean, vaginal delivery, or assisted vaginal delivery), a positive birth experience is possible when women feel secure, trusted, supported, and involved in decision-making. Furthermore, the constant presence of midwives during labor appears to play a significant role in shaping both the birth experience and the postpartum period.

The author has completed and submitted the ICMJE Form for Disclosure of Potential Conflicts of Interest and none was reported.
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