Repeat caesarean sections (CSs) are major contributors to the high rate of CS in Canada and globally. Women’s decisions to have a planned repeat CS (PRCS) or a trial of labour after CS (TOLAC) are influenced by their maternity care providers. This study explored factors maternity care providers consider when counselling pregnant women with a previous CS, eligible for a TOLAC, about delivery method.
A qualitative descriptive design was implemented. Semi-structured, one-to-one in-depth telephone interviews were conducted with 39 maternity care providers in Ontario, Canada. Participants were recruited at 2 maternity care conferences and with the use of snowball sampling. Interviews were audio recorded and transcribed verbatim. Data were uploaded into the data management software, NVIVO 10.0 and analyzed using qualitative content analysis.
Participants consisted of 12 obstetricians, 13 family physicians and 14 midwives. Emergent themes, reflecting the factors maternity care providers considered when counselling on mode of delivery, were organized under the categories clinical/patient factors, health system factors and provider preferences. Maternity care providers considered clinical/patient factors, including
women’s choice … with conditions, their assessment of women’s chances of a successful TOLAC, their perception of women’s risk tolerance, women’s preferred delivery method, and their perception of women’s beliefs and attitudes about childbirth. Additionally, providers considered health system factors which included colleague support for TOLACand time needed to mount an emergency CS. Finally, provider factors emerged as considerations when counselling. They included provider preference for PRCS or TOLAC, provider scope of practice, financial incentives and convenience related to PRCS, past experiences with TOLAC and PRCS and providers’ perspectives on risk of TOLAC. Conclusion
The findings highlight the multiplicity of factors maternity care providers consider when counselling women. Effectively addressing clinical, health care system and personal factors that influence counselling may help decrease non-medically indicated PRCS.