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Aust N Z J Obstet Gynaecol. 2015 Apr;55(2):156-62. doi: 10.1111/ajo.12263. Epub 2014 Oct 22.

Women's beliefs about the duration of pregnancy and the earliest gestational age to safely give birth.

Author information

1
Clinical and Population Perinatal Health Research, Kolling Institute of Medical Research, University Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Royal North Shore Hospital, St Leonards, New South Wales, Australia.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

American evidence suggests women are not well informed about the optimal duration of pregnancy or the earliest time for safe birth. Similar evidence does not exist in Australia.

AIMS:

To explore pregnant women's beliefs about the duration of pregnancy and the earliest time for safe birth, and to compare the results with US data.

METHODS:

A cross-sectional survey of pregnant women attending antenatal clinics at four public hospitals in Sydney, Australia, included information on maternal and pregnancy characteristics, and two questions exploring women's beliefs about the duration of pregnancy, and the earliest time for safe birth. Responses were grouped as: late preterm (34-36 weeks), early term (37-38 weeks) and full term (39-40 weeks).

RESULTS:

Of the 784 surveyed women, 52% chose 39-40 weeks as the duration of a full-term pregnancy, while for the earliest time for safe birth, 10% chose 39-40 weeks and 57% chose 37-38 weeks. Some maternal characteristics were associated with women's beliefs, including having a medical and/or pregnancy complication, country of birth, level of education, employment status and attending a tertiary hospital. The associations were different for each question. In comparison with US studies, Australian women were more likely to choose later gestations for both the duration of pregnancy and the earliest time for safe birth.

CONCLUSIONS:

A significant proportion of women believe that full-term pregnancy and earliest time for safe birth occur before 39 weeks, suggesting opportunities for better communication about the benefits and risks of birthing at different gestations.

KEYWORDS:

beliefs; gestational age; pregnancy; survey; term

PMID:
25338962
DOI:
10.1111/ajo.12263
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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