What influences women's experiences of childbirth in Flanders? – A quantitative cross-sectional analysis of the Babies Born Better survey

Thaels, Ellen, Meermans, Hanne and Beeckman, Katrien (2023) What influences women's experiences of childbirth in Flanders? – A quantitative cross-sectional analysis of the Babies Born Better survey. Midwifery, 126 . p. 103810. ISSN 0266-6138

[thumbnail of VOR]
PDF (VOR) - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution.


Official URL: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.midw.2023.103810


Labour and birth experiences are of great importance since these can have positive, but also negative effects on women's health and wellbeing. This is the first study, which investigated the factors that influence women's experiences of childbirth in Flanders, Belgium.

A cross-sectional quantitative analysis was used to examine primary data obtained by the Babies Born Better project. Data collection took place via an online survey from April 2018 until August 2018 in Flanders.

1414 women that gave birth across all birth settings between 2013 and 2018, who speak Flemish/Dutch were included. Participants were self-selected by filling out the Babies Born Better survey in 2018.

The majority of the Flemish women included in this study reported a positive labour and birth experience. Analysis of the demographic variables showed that women who were single or not co-habiting reported a worse experience of labour and birth (P = 0.012). All obstetric factors included showed significant differences (P<0.01). Lastly, women were more likely to report a better experience when birth took place at home or in a midwifery unit and when the main care provider was a midwife (P<0.01). When controlled for significant variables from the univariate analysis, an impact on the birth experience was only found with the obstetric factors. A preterm (OR 0.544, 95%CI 0.362–0.817) and post term birth (OR 0.664, 95% CI 0.462–0.953) were found to reduce the chance of a good experience compared to a birth at term. In case of complications during pregnancy, women were less likely to report having had a good experience (OR 0.632, 95% CI 0.470 – 0.849). Medical interventions such as induction- (OR 0.346, 95% CI 0.241 – 0.497) and augmentation of labour (OR 0.318, 95% CI 0.218–0.463), an instrumental birth (OR 0.318, 95% CI 0.218–0.463) or a planned- (OR 0.349, 95% CI 0.205–0.596) or emergency caesarean section (OR 0.190, 95% CI 0.109–0.329) reduced the chances of women reporting to have had a good experience with care around labour and birth.

Key conclusions
The majority of women included in this study reported a good experience of care during labour and at birth. Certain obstetric factors such as having a straightforward pregnancy without complications, a physiological onset of labour at term without the need for augmentation and to give birth vaginally (without instrument) have shown a positive impact on women's reported birth experiences.

Implications for practice
Women's involvement in decision-making, especially when medical interventions are wanted or needed can improve positive birth experiences. More research is needed on how to support women and empower them, even more so in case of complications to ensure a sense of control and achievement.

Repository Staff Only: item control page