Date of Award

2004

Level of Access

Open-Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Human Development

Advisor

Sandra L. Caron

Second Committee Member

Mary Ellin Logue

Third Committee Member

Mary Madden

Abstract

This study was done to determine what influences women's satisfaction with their childbirth experiences and if the type of childbirth education class they attended was a factor in satisfaction. Investigation into this question is necessary to provide helpful information to three groups of people. Childbirth educators will benefit from information about how to best prepare women for their childbirth experiences. Labor support people will benefit by learning what aids in creating a satisfactory experience for laboring women. Finally, expecting women will benefit from learning what might make their experience satisfactory or not. Literature about the benefit of childbirth education has conflicted, but heavily supports its role in preparing women for childbirth experiences. The role of expectations has also been explored and studies have said that both negative and high expectations can play a positive role in women's satisfaction with their childbirth experiences. Other factors that have been found to influence women's satisfaction besides information and expectations are that of labor support and feeling a sense of control and power during the process. Qualitative data was collected in this study through one-hour long interviews with ten women. Five of the women attended a hospital-based childbirth education series and five attended an independent childbirth education series. The interviews were transcribed and the results were analyzed by finding themes and commonalities. The results from this study showed that the two groups of women recalled their experiences differently. They also differed on their views of natural childbirth, use of pain medication, and use of a doula. However, both groups showed that satisfaction was influenced mostly by the support they received as well as their expectations about birth being met. Dissatisfaction was mostly influenced by insensitivity and lack of support from the hospital staff, and expectations not being met. Most satisfied are the women who receive support and have expectations that are met or exceeded. Expectations are easier to meet or exceed if they aren't too high and unrealistic or if women take control over their childbirth environment and support. The study explores the roles of different types of childbirth education classes, different types of women, as well as expectations in women's satisfaction with childbirth experiences. Though this study reinforces previous research that says labor support, control and personal expectations are significant influences in women's satisfaction with their childbirth experiences, more research is needed to determine whether or not there is a significant difference between the type of information disseminated in hospital and independent childbirth education classes.

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