Details of Publication 734 for Project W060:

Steel A, Sibbritt D, Adams J, Frawley J, Broom A & Gallois C. The association between women's choice of birth setting and their use of CAM during labor and birth , 2014; : A20

Purpose: Contemporary maternity care often means women are able to choose a number of settings for their birth including hospitals, birth centers, and community settings. There is also evidence that many women utilised complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) during pregnancy and birth. The purpose of this study is to examine the association between women’s choice of birth setting and their use of CAM during labor and birth.Methods: Longitudinal data from a sub-study of women (n = 2445) from the nationally-representative Australian Longitudinal Study of Women’s Health (ALSWH) was analyzed for relationships between women’s birth setting (hospital, birth center, or community) and their demographics, attitudes towards maternity care (including CAM), and use of CAM during pregnancy and birth.Results: The characteristics associated with women’s choice of birth setting include some demographic features such as employment status, health care subsidy, and level of education. Women’s birth setting choice was also linked to a preference for CAM practitioner by women birthing in birth centers and community settings. In contrast, women birthing in hospitals held more positive views towards obstetric care. There was a higher use of CAM during pregnancy by women birthing in birthcenters and community but this was not consistent across all CAMs investigated. Naturopaths, herbal medicines, homeopathy and flower essences were more commonly used by women birthing in community compared with those in a birth center. There was also a higher rate of CAM use for intrapartum pain management for women birthing outside of a hospital setting, although women attending a birth center were more likely than those birthing in community to use pharmacological pain managementtechniques.Conclusion: There are characteristic differences between women birthing in different birth settings which seems to be influenced as much by preference for maternity care and interest in CAM use as it is by demographics.

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