Giving birth after caesarean: Identifying shared preferences among pregnant women using Q methodology

Anna L Rietveld*, N Job A van Exel, Merith C Cohen de Lara, Christianne J M de Groot, Pim W Teunissen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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BACKGROUND: Caesarean rates are rising worldwide, the main contributor being the elective repeat caesarean. During the past decades, rates of vaginal birth after caesarean dropped considerably. This requires insight in women's preferences regarding giving birth following a previous caesarean.

AIM: To gain a better understanding of women's values and preferences regarding the upcoming birth following a previous caesarean. Using Q methodology, this study systematically explores and categorises their preferences.

METHODS: Q methodology is an innovative research approach to explore and compare a variety of viewpoints on a certain subject. Thirty-one statements on birth after caesarean were developed based on the health belief model. Thirty-six purposively sampled pregnant women with a history of caesarean ranked these statements from least to most important. By-person factor analysis was used to identify patterns which, supplemented with interview data, were interpreted as preferences.

FINDINGS: Three distinct preferences for giving birth after a caesarean were found; (a) "Minimise the risks for me and my child", giving priority to professional advice and risk of adverse events, (b) "Seek the benefits of normal birth", desiring to give birth as normal as possible for both emotional and practical reasons, (c) "Opt for repeat caesarean", expressing the belief that a planned caesarean brings comfort.

CONCLUSIONS: Preferences for birth after caesarean vary considerably among pregnant women. The findings help to understand the different types of information valued by women who need to decide on their mode of birth after a first caesarean.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)273-279
Number of pages7
JournalWomen and Birth
Issue number3
Early online date3 Jun 2019
Publication statusPublished - May 2020


  • Caesarean
  • Trial of labour
  • Q methodology
  • Patient preferences
  • Counseling
  • MODE
  • CARE


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