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Birthing Positions During Second Stage of Labor and Long-Term Psychological Outcomes in Low-Risk Women

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PURPOSE: To examine the long-term influence of birthing positions during the second stage of labor, as well as other factors, on birth satisfaction, self-esteem (based on the Rosenberg Self-esteem Scale [RSE]) and emotional well-being (based on the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale [EPDS]).

STUDY DESIGN: Three to four years after delivery, a postal questionnaire was sent to all 3,200 women who received care in eight midwifery care practices from all over the country in 2001. Of those who responded (44%), we included 591 low-risk women in the study who were in midwife-led care at the time of birth.

MAJOR FINDINGS: Birthing positions were not related to childbirth satisfaction, self-esteem, or emotional well-being. Age between 26 and 35 years was associated with being very satisfied and with enhanced emotional well-being. Pain, fear for own or baby's life, and negative experience with the midwife were associated with reduced satisfaction. Only age between 26 and 35 years and higher education were related to higher self-esteem.

MAIN CONCLUSION: Concern about long-term psychological outcomes is not a reason to recommend either supine or nonsupine positions. Women should use positions that are most comfortable. Further research should clarify whether having a choice in the use of birthing positions rather than the type of position influences psychological outcomes.


Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2011-12-01

More about this publication?
  • The International Journal of Childbirth is a peer-reviewed, quarterly journal publishing original research, reviews, and case studies concerned with the practice of midwifery, women's health, prenatal care, and the birth process. The journal encourages the exploration of the complex and contextual issues surrounding childbirth provision and outcomes and invites manuscripts from a wide range of clinical, theoretical, political, methodological, psychological, public health, policy, and multicultural and interdisciplinary perspectives.
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