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Br J Clin Psychol. 1993 Nov;32(4):469-83.

Expectations, experiences and satisfaction with labour.

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1
Department of Psychology, University of Sheffield, Western Bank, UK.

Abstract

Emotional, medical and control aspects of labour were explored in 81 primiparous women. Expectations were assessed antenatally and compared with postnatal reports of experiences. Expectations of positive emotions were significantly greater than experience while negative emotional expectations were paralleled by experience. There was a major discrepancy between expectations and experiences of the occurrence of interventions, with the proportion of women expecting interventions being greatly exceeded by those actually undergoing such experiences. In addition, expectations concerning personal control together with the use and efficacy of breathing and relaxation exercises in labour were elevated in relation to experience. Positive emotional expectations were strong predictors of positive emotional experiences and unrelated to negative emotional expectations. Expectations in general were positively related to experience but the strength of the association was weak. Personal satisfaction (i.e. satisfaction with self) in labour was strongly associated with the ability to control panic and other aspects of personal control. The ability to control panic was mainly influenced by the use of exercises. Attenders and non-attenders at antenatal preparation classes showed no significant differences in their experiences or personal satisfaction levels. Possible explanations for this absence of impact are discussed together with issues concerning the relevance of psychological theory to midwifery practice and the need for greater integration.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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