emma2Childbirth Connection, a wonderful online resource which offers women and families well-researched and evidence-based information to help them make good choices for childbirth, has published a series of three surveys of women themselves, asking about their experiences.  I would heartily suggest the “Listening to Mothers” surveys as mandatory reading before deciding how, where, and with whom to have a baby.  The first surveys,  Listening to Mothers I and II, were conducted for Childbirth Connection in 2002 and 2006 and reported on U.S. women’s childbearing experiences from their own point of view. They revealed that women were frequently misinformed or misled about the care they would receive in hospitals, with unwanted interventions and with restrictions on the type of labor and birth that they envisioned and desired.  “Listening toMothers II, ” is somewhat dated, but unfortunately the findings are still relevant today, perhaps even more so, as interventions imposed on childbearing women in hospitals continue to rise, with soaring rates of labor induction, epidural anesthesia, and cesarean birth, interventions not necessarily indicated by a risk to the health of the mother or baby, and, in fact, possibly increasing that risk.

According to Childbirth Connection, “The new companion report answers two key questions: How are women faring in the postpartum period? And what are their views of maternity care and their role in it? In addition, the final appendix includes additional items relating to the women’s pregnancy and birth experiences, which were reported extensively in the previous survey report.”  To read the full report, go to http://transform.childbirthconnection.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/LTM-III_NMSO.pdf