Twenty primiparous mothers who had cesarean births were compared with 30 primiparous mothers who had vaginal deliveries to determine differences in their perceptions of the birth experience. The effect of general versus regional anesthesia on the satisfaction level of the cesarean mothers was also investigated. All subjects were between 20 and 32 years of age, were interviewed within 48 hours postpartum, and completed a 29-item questionnaire that measures maternal perceptions about the labor and delivery experience. Satisfaction with the birth experience was significantly lower among cesarean mothers and among those who had general anesthesia. The cesarean group displayed greater hesitancy in naming their infants and tended to view their deliveries as abnormal and having social stigma. The presence of a support person in the operating room for a cesarean birth seemed to lessen anxiety among these mothers. These findings suggest that a cesarean birth has a negative impact on the mother's perceptions of her labor and delivery experience. There is a need for further study of factors that can enhance this experience for families.
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