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Womens experience of midwife-led counselling and its influence on childbirth fear : A qualitative study

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Author list: Hildingsson, Ingegerd;Karlström, Annika

Publication year: 2018

ISSN: 1871-5192

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.wombi.2018.04.008


Abstract

Background: Women with childbirth fear have been offered counseling by experienced midwives in Sweden for decades without evidence for its effectiveness, in terms of decrease in childbirth fear. Women are usually satisfied with the counselling. However, there is a lack of qualitative data regarding womens views about counselling for childbirth fear. Aim: To explore womens experiences of midwife-led counselling for childbirth fear. Method: A qualitative interview study using thematic analysis. Twenty-seven women assessed for childbirth fear who had received counselling during pregnancy at three different hospitals in Sweden were interviewed by telephone one to two years after birth. Findings: The overarching theme ‘Midwife-led counselling brought positive feelings and improved confidence in birth’ was identified. This consisted of four themes describing ‘the importance of the midwife’ and ‘a mutual and strengthening dialogue’ during pregnancy. ‘Coping strategies and support enabled a positive birth’ represent womens experiences during birth and ‘being prepared for a future birth’ were the womens thoughts of a future birth. Conclusions: In this qualitative study, women reported that midwife-led counselling improved their confidence for birth through information and knowledge. The women experienced a greater sense of calm and preparedness, which increased the tolerance for the uncertainty related to the birthing process. This, in turn, positively affected the birth experience. Combined with a feeling of safety, which was linked to the professional support during birth, the women felt empowered. The positive birth experience strengthened the self-confidence for a future birth and the childbirth fear was described as reduced or manageable.


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