Women's views and experiences of continuous support during childbirth : a meta-synthesis
Lunda, Petronellah Malimbu
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Background: Despite the known benefits of continuous support during childbirth, the practice is still not routinely implemented in all maternity settings and women’s perspectives might not be considered. This study aimed to provide midwives and other healthcare professionals with summaries of best available research evidence on women’s views and experiences regarding continuous support during childbirth. The review question was: What were the views and experiences of women regarding continuous support during childbirth as reported in qualitative studies and in studies that adopted mixed research methods with a qualitative component that used semi-structured, in-depth or focus group interviews or case studies? Methods: A detailed search was done on electronic data bases: EBSCOhost: Medline, PsychINFO, SocINDEX, OAlster, Scopus, SciELO, Science Direct, PubMED and Google Scholar. The data bases were searched for available literature using a predetermined search strategy. Reference lists of included studies were analysed to identify possible studies that were missing from data bases. The phenomenon of interest was women’s views and experiences of continuous support during childbirth. Pre-determined inclusion and exclusion criteria were applied during the selection of eligible sources. In total 12 studies were included in the data analysis and synthesis. Results: Two categories, according to women’s perspectives on continuous support during childbirth, were identified namely the role and attributes of the support persons and challenging aspects regarding continuous support during childbirth. Some women did not distinguish between the role of a support person/doula and a midwife. Women’s perspectives about continuous support during childbirth were influenced by culture, traditions and values, relationships with specific support persons as well as institutional practices, forms of supportive care received and the attributes of the support person. Clearly women preferred someone they were familiar and comfortable with. Conclusion: Continuous support during childbirth was valued by most women. Health care institutions should include continuous support during childbirth in their policies and guidelines and birth plans.
- Health Sciences