Background Caesarean section rates have increased significantly in recent decades. This has been partially attributed to women’s request for the procedure. The concepts of ‘informed choice’ and ‘women centred care’ have become central tenets of maternity care and yet women’s experience of the decision making process is neglected in the literature. The aim of this study was to explore the experience of decision making about mode of delivery in women who had delivered by Caesarean section.
Methods An Interpretive Phenomenological study design was used. In-depth, semi-structured interviews were conducted with six women, three to six months after they had undergone a Caesarean section at Cork University Maternity Hospital. Three were elective Caesarean sections and three were emergency.
Results Three superordinate themes emerged from the analysis; discontent with Caesarean section as mode of delivery, the baby as a priority, and information and support. Women’s preference for vaginal delivery was superseded by biological and clinical factors and the decision to deliver by Caesarean section in all cases was taken by health professionals. Women felt that they were uninformed and had no real choice regarding their delivery. Discontent arose when the Caesarean section impacted negatively on the women and conflicted with their personal expectations of birth.
Conclusion The notion of ‘informed choice’ in relation to mode of delivery appears redundant. The provision of information and improved communication may decrease the discontent that women experience with Caesarean section and create a more positive and engaging birthing environment.
- Caesarean section
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