Nav: Home

Study shows women lack confidence in maternity care providers

June 27, 2016

ANN ARBOR--Every woman who has ever had a baby shower has had to sit through the gruesome war stories about labor and childbirth.

A new University of Michigan study shows that women are even more afraid of childbirth than previously thought--and are as concerned about their health care providers and their place of birth as they are about pain or complications.

The findings are a lukewarm endorsement at best of the maternity care given to mothers in the United States compared to more family friendly countries like Sweden, say the study's authors.

The goal of the study was to learn which aspects of childbirth women feared, and whether women's fears are being acknowledged and addressed by providers. Researchers polled three small, diverse focus groups of women who were pregnant or had recently given birth.

While some fear in expectant mothers is normal and helpful in planning and asking questions of providers, excessive fear can lead to complications during pregnancy and birth, says Lee Roosevelt, clinical assistant professor at the U-M School of Nursing. She says the study, while relatively small, illuminates the need for more research on the topic.

"Women who have significant fear of childbirth are more likely to have C-sections, longer labors, and to need induction or augmentation," said Roosevelt, who is also a midwife. "They're more likely to have postpartum depression."

Women are not only more afraid than previously thought, but their fears extend far beyond common worries about pain or birth complications, she says.

One of the greatest fears is being abandoned by the clinician, Roosevelt says. They worry their clinicians won't treat them respectfully or listen to their concerns, or won't attend the actual birth.

"The results say a lot about how we do maternity care in this country," said Lisa Kane Low, associate professor at the U-M School of Nursing.

Women also reported being worried that they'd be expected to bear the brunt of decision-making responsibility, or that their decisions wouldn't be respected. Others worried how they'd be treated if they didn't have good insurance.

"I knew as a clinician and midwife, myself, that the relationship that I have with my patients is so essential, but I didn't really realize how key it was to women's fears," Roosevelt said.

Kane Low says that a better way for clinicians to address fears is to pose open-ended questions about how women regard their pregnancy and childbirth, rather than asking specific questions about common fears.

"Women want to be in a discussion with their provider about their fears," she said. "They don't want to be patted on the back and told, 'Oh, that's normal, you're having a baby.'"

Researchers hope to develop a survey tool to accurately assess a woman's fear of childbirth and examine how fear affects the physiology of pregnant women.

The U-M study is one of the few on fear of childbirth conducted in the U.S. Most research has occurred in the Netherlands and Sweden, which have more integrated health care systems and maternity friendly policies, Kane Lowe says.
The study is available online at the Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic and Neonatal Nursing.

Study abstract

Lee Roosevelt

Lisa Kane Low

School of Nursing

University of Michigan

Related Pain Articles:

Spinal manipulation treatment for low back pain associated with modest improvement in pain, function
Among patients with acute low back pain, spinal manipulation therapy was associated with modest improvements in pain and function at up to six weeks, with temporary minor musculoskeletal harms, according to a study published by JAMA.
Pain in the neck
Researchers led by University of Utah bioengineering assistant professor Robby Bowles have discovered a way to curb chronic pain by modulating genes that reduce tissue- and cell-damaging inflammation.
Can staying active help to prevent chronic pain? Physical activity affects pain modulation in older adults
Older adults with higher levels of physical activity have pain modulation patterns that might help lower their risk of developing chronic pain, reports a study in PAIN®, the official publication of the International Association for the Study of Pain (IASP).
Is back pain killing us?
Older people who suffer from back pain have a 13 per cent increased risk of dying from any cause, University of Sydney research has found.
Improving pain care through implementation of the Stepped Care Model for Pain Management
A new study published in the Journal of Pain Research provides evidence that implementation of a Stepped Care Model for Pain Management has the potential to more adequately treat chronic pain.
More Pain News and Pain Current Events

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Teaching For Better Humans
More than test scores or good grades — what do kids need to prepare them for the future? This hour, guest host Manoush Zomorodi and TED speakers explore how to help children grow into better humans, in and out of the classroom. Guests include educators Olympia Della Flora and Liz Kleinrock, psychologist Thomas Curran, and writer Jacqueline Woodson.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#534 Bacteria are Coming for Your OJ
What makes breakfast, breakfast? Well, according to every movie and TV show we've ever seen, a big glass of orange juice is basically required. But our morning grapefruit might be in danger. Why? Citrus greening, a bacteria carried by a bug, has infected 90% of the citrus groves in Florida. It's coming for your OJ. We'll talk with University of Maryland plant virologist Anne Simon about ways to stop the citrus killer, and with science writer and journalist Maryn McKenna about why throwing antibiotics at the problem is probably not the solution. Related links: A Review of the Citrus Greening...