The Canadian Maternity Experiences Survey: An Overview of Findings
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OBJECTIVE: The Canadian Perinatal Surveillance System (CPSS) of the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) routinely monitors national perinatal health indicators using available administrative databases and population health surveys. Women's perceptions and assessments of their perinatal experiences are not captured by these data sources. The Maternity Experiences Survey (MES) addresses some of these knowledge gaps, and was designed to examine experiences, practices, perceptions and knowledge during pregnancy, birth and the early postpartum months among women giving birth in Canada. METHODS: A randomly selected sample of 8542 women, stratified primarily by province and territory, was drawn from the May 2006 Canadian Census. Birth mothers living with their infants at the time of interview were invited to participate in a computer assisted telephone interview conducted by Statistics Canada on behalf of the PHAC. Interviews took approximately 45 minutes and were completed when infants were between five and 10 months old (between 9 and 14 months in the territories). Completed responses were obtained from 6421 women (78%). RESULTS: Most women reported being satisfied with the care they received. The findings suggested a higher use of selected interventions in pregnancy, labour and birth than is recommended by current evidence and a lower adherence to several best practices related to family-centred issues and the World Health Organization / United Nations Children's Fund "Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative." CONCLUSION: Assessing women's perceptions of their perinatal care'provides a valuable supplement to traditional perinatal surveillance tools. The MES will allow for women's views to be considered in relation to current maternity care policies and practices in Canada.
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