The maternal childbirth experience more than a decade after delivery

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Abstract

Background

Maternal satisfaction with the birth experience is multidimensional and influenced by many factors, including mode of delivery. To date, few studies have investigated maternal satisfaction outside of the immediate postpartum period.

Objective

This study investigated whether differences in satisfaction based on mode of delivery are observed more than a decade after delivery.

Study Design

This was a planned, supplementary analysis of data collected for the Mothers’ Outcomes after Delivery study, a longitudinal cohort study of pelvic floor disorders in parous women and their association with mode of delivery. Obstetric and demographic data were obtained through patient surveys and obstetrical chart review. Maternal satisfaction with childbirth experience was assessed via the Salmon questionnaire, administered to Mothers’ Outcomes after Delivery study participants >10 years from their first delivery. This validated questionnaire yields 3 scores: fulfillment, distress, and difficulty. These 3 scores were compared by mode of delivery (cesarean prior to labor, cesarean during labor, spontaneous vaginal delivery, and operative vaginal delivery). In addition, the impact of race, age, education level, parity, episiotomy, labor induction, and duration of second stage of labor on maternal satisfaction were examined.

Results

Among 576 women, 10.1-17.5 years from delivery, significant differences in satisfaction scores were noted by delivery mode. Salmon scale scores differed between women delivering by cesarean and those delivering vaginally: women delivering vaginally reported greater fulfillment (0.40 [–0.37 to 0.92] vs 0.15 [–0.88 to 0.66], P < .001) and less distress (–0.34 [–0.88 to 0.38] vs 0.20 [–0.70 to 0.93], P < .001) than those who delivered by cesarean. Women who delivered by cesarean prior to labor reported the greatest median fulfillment scores and the lowest median difficulty scores. Median distress scores were lowest among those who delivered by spontaneous vaginal birth. Among women who underwent cesarean delivery, labor induction and prolonged second stage were associated with higher difficulty scores. These factors did not affect satisfaction scores among women who delivered vaginally. Among women who delivered vaginally, operative vaginal delivery was associated with less favorable scores across all 3 scores.

Conclusion

Maternal satisfaction with childbirth is influenced by mode of delivery. The birth experience leaves an impression on women more than a decade after delivery.

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