Antenatal consultations for preterm labour: how are future mothers reassured?

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Abstract

Objective

To evaluate whether the antenatal consultation for preterm labour worries or reassures women, and to identify factors contributing to these feelings.

Design

This is a prospective survey study from April 2012 to September 2013. This mixed-methodology tool was co-constructed with patients and first tested in a single-centre pilot study.

Setting

Three university-affiliated, tertiary care, high-risk obstetrics inpatient units in Quebec, Canada.

Participants

Women hospitalised with threatened preterm labour between 26 and 32 weeks’ gestational age completed the survey within 72 hours of an antenatal consultation by neonatology. 341 women were invited to participate and 226 mothers completed the survey (72% response rate), at a median gestational age of 30 weeks.

Main outcome measures

Participant worry, reassurance and change in perception after the antenatal consultation were the main outcome measures. Multivariable logistic regression was used to identify factors associated with these outcomes.

Results

23% of participants were worried by the consultation, and 87% were reassured by it. Lower gestational age and higher maternal education were associated with feeling worried (adjusted OR=0.83, 95% CI 0.70 to 0.99; and adjusted OR=2.15, 95% CI 1.04 to 4.44, respectively). Longer consultations were associated with reassurance (adjusted OR=8.21, 95% CI 2.67 to 25.26). Women were reassured by (1) feeling well informed about prematurity with optimistic outlooks, and (2) a trusting and reassuring expert neonatology team. High-quality interactions with neonatologists were associated with reassurance, while poorer communications were associated with feelings of worry.

Conclusions

To be reassuring, neonatologists should strive to establish a trusting relationship with mothers, in which realistic and clear, but optimistic, information is offered.

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