The University of Tasmania is seeking women to take part in a study aiming to uncover the views of new mothers on childbirth and why they chose to have a caesarean birth.
Launceston nursing and midwifery lecturer and PhD student Lynne Staff is undertaking the study with fellow researchers Dr Shandell Elmer and Dr Meredith Nash.
“We want to talk to women who had a healthy, normal first pregnancy and requested a caesarean, to gain a greater understanding of what leads women to their decision,” Ms Staff said.
“We want to look at the meanings women who make this decision attach to labour, vaginal birth and to caesarean section.
“We also want to find out when in their lives they make the decision to have a caesarean, because there is little known about this.
“While maternal request caesarean has been researched before, the meanings that women who choose a caesarean attach to the birth process have not been previously examined.”
Ms Staff, herself a midwife for 35 years, is keen to uncover new information and also wants to give women the chance to have the opportunity to voice their individual feelings and experiences.
“I want to do this as a researcher and a health professional because it is important that women are able to tell their story,” she said.
“Women need to have a voice yet too often they are silenced and don’t feel like they can speak especially when it comes to something as emotive and as personal as childbirth decisions.”
She said caesarean rates had risen exponentially across the world in the past 30 years.
“Overall about one third of babies are now born by caesarean,” Ms Staff said.
“This is over double what is was 30 years ago when caesarean sections accounted for only 10 to 15 per cent of all births.”
Ms Staff said she hoped to interview about 20 Tasmanian women for the qualitative study.
“It is a fascinating subject and I want to build on research I did in Queensland 10 years ago,” she said.
Participants may be asked why they asked their doctor for a caesarean section and if it was an easy or difficult decision.
Ms Staff said she would travel within Tasmania to interview participants who would also be asked to produce a visual image such as a collage or drawing to show their thoughts and feelings about childbirth.