The Effect of Evidence-Based Scripted Midwifery Counseling on Women's Choices About Mode of Birth After a Previous Cesarean

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Abstract

Introduction:

The purpose of this study was to evaluate how a scripted counseling intervention affected the experience of decision making and actual choice for trial of labor after cesarean (TOLAC) or elective repeat cesarean birth (ERCB) in a cohort of women receiving care from nurse-midwives.

Methods:

A pilot study of scripted counseling for women who had a previous cesarean about TOLAC versus ERCB was conducted at Boston Medical Center. Candidates for a TOLAC, receiving prenatal care from nurse-midwives in 2012 and 2013, were enrolled before 28 weeks’ gestation. The women received 4 scripted counseling sessions during the routine prenatal visit, evidence-based information pamphlets, and an opportunity to review the hospital TOLAC consent form. Pre and post questionnaires were completed regarding birth preference, information sources, and decision factors. A midpoint assessment of the participants’ knowledge of risks and benefits of TOLAC versus ERCB was conducted, and satisfaction with the intervention and outcome were assessed after the birth.

Results:

Twenty-two women participated in the study, and 20 completed all study questionnaires. More of the participants believed they had enough information after the intervention (95% after intervention vs 70% before the intervention). Reasons for choosing ERCB included being afraid of vaginal birth complications, having prior positive experience with cesarean, and convenience of knowing when the neonate will be born. Reasons for choosing a TOLAC included the personal importance of having a vaginal birth and that recovery is faster and easier. Few women cited concerns for their own safety and that of their newborns when choosing TOLAC.

Discussion:

Women were satisfied with the scripted counseling and found it useful in helping them make a birth mode decision. While the scripted counseling did not appear to influence preferred mode of birth, it appeared to help women follow through with the mode of birth they chose prenatally.

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