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Knowledge and expectations of labour among primigravid women in the public health sector

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Objectives. We analysed knowledge and expectations of the process and pain of labour in primigravidas attending a local midwifery obstetric unit (MOU). It was anticipated that the results of this study could inform the development of interventions aimed at improving the analgesic care of women delivering at primary health care obstetric units. Design. Qualitative analysis of data obtained from in-depth semi-structured interviews. Setting. A Cape Town MOU. Subjects. 30 black African, Xhosa-speaking primigravidas. Outcome measures. An open-ended interview guide was developed. The themes explored included previous painful experiences, knowledge of labour, expectations of and attitudes towards labour pain, and knowledge of biomedical analgesia. Results. Patients were poorly informed about the process and pain of labour. Most women appeared highly motivated concerning their ability to cope with labour. Most expected pain, but had no concept of the severity or duration of the pain, and knew very little concerning methods available for pain relief in labour. Conclusion. Women at this MOU were poorly prepared for the experience of delivery. Antenatal programmes should incorporate sensitive education concerning the process and pain of labour and the methods available to alleviate pain. South African Medical Journal Vol. 97 (6) 2007: pp. 461-464

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