A Good Start? Structural Approaches to Improving Perinatal Maternal Health
1Vienna Women’s Health Programme, Austria
The perinatal period is a critical phase for the biopsychosocial health of mothers and infants. A study investigates the psychosocial factors influencing childbirth methods and women’s mental states. The representative survey was carried out 4 days postpartum among 1,829 women in 7 hospitals administered by the City of Vienna by means of a questionnaire provided in 8 languages, as well as a follow-up analysis among 99 women 4 to 6 months later. Psychosocial risk factors, delivery methods, information levels, subjective motives for the particular childbirth method and emotional and social situations were recorded. Fear of childbirth correlates with an increased C-section rate. There were significant differences in the emotional state depending on childbirth method. 24% of women electing to undergo a Caesarean said they would recommend their chosen childbirth method. 1.5% of the women had a C-section without medical indication. A C-section is a relevant perinatal stress factor. Childbirth classes and effective multidisciplinary cooperation are key protective factors. A block of measures have been drawn up aimed at counteracting and preventing later psychosocial crisis situations.