Background The experience of childbirth crucially impacts a mother's psychological well-being and the mother-infant relationship. It is recognized that negative deliveries can be linked to different forms of discomfort, both for the mother as well as for the newborn. Aim This observational study aimed at studying the effect of obstetric and psychological variables on women's subjective experience of childbirth. Methods A sample of 111 primiparous Italian women were recruited at the 9th month of pregnancy and a few days after childbirth. Socio-anagraphic, anamnestic and obstetric information about pregnancy were collected. Obstetric data about the childbirth was obtained from the mother's ward birth records. Women completed the Wijma Delivery Expectancy/Experience Questionnaire both before and after delivery. Findings The subjective experience of birth was significantly predicted by the duration of the expulsive phase (β = .26; p <.05), the use of epidural analgesia (β = .21; p <.05) and by fear of birth (β = .21; p <.05). Type of delivery and duration of the dilatation phase of labor did not affect women's birth experience. Discussion Operative delivery and cesarean section do not affect the women’s birth experience. Instead, both a longer expulsion phase and epidural analgesia contribute to the negative experience. Moreover, the higher the fear of birth, the worse the fear experienced during the childbirth. Conclusion Results confirmed the role of obstetric and psychological variables on birth experience. More accurate knowledge about the birth experience is needed to develop specific interventions to prepare pregnant women at birth.
- childbirth experience, obstetric determinants, psychological determinants, primiparous women