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Giving birth

Giving birth: expectations and experiences of first time mothers in Switzerland

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Aim: To develop a model of the emerging expectations of the mode of giving birth and the subsequent experiences of healthy primigravid women in Switzerland. Research questions:

  • What are healthy primigravid women’s expectations in early pregnancy of giving birth?
  • How do these expectations change during pregnancy?
  • What are the influences on these expectations?
  • What were the experiences of giving birth?
  • How did the experience of giving birth match the expectations?

Context:This study was carried out in the context of a rising caesarean section rate, the perceived desire of women for elective caesarean and increasing costs of care (Gibbons et al, 2010). No well carried out longitudinal studies have been published which identify women’s changing expectations during and after pregnancy.

Method:The hermeneutic method of Fleming et al (2003a) involving a five stage approach was used to inform this study. Participants were 65 healthy primigravid women, recruited from four cantons in Switzerland, through obstetricians and midwives providing ante natal care.  Each consenting woman took part in four guided conversations at approximately 20 and 34 weeks of pregnancy, six to eight weeks and six months postpartum.  Data were transcribed verbatim and analysed according to the chosen methodology from which a model was generated. Strict ethical standards were maintained throughout the project.

Outputs:Different themes were identified at each of the four timepoints. In addition to the identified themes, a model of expectations vis a vis experiences was generated, showing the hermeneutics of continuity and discontinuity.  From these a model of expectations vis a vis experiences was generated, which may in the future be used to develop a national questionnaire for further research.