|Background: Caesarean section (CS) rates are continuing to rise worldwide. Elective repeat CS (ERCS) greatly contribute to the rising rate which increases unnecessary risks of maternal and neonatal morbidity and mortality. Vaginal birth after caesarean (VBAC) is a safe mode of birth for most women; however, uptake remains low. Our objective is to find the factors that influence women’s decision-making to support informed choices for the mode of next birth after caesarean section (NBAC).|
Methods: A literature search was conducted in CINAHL, Maternity and Infant Care, Embase, EmCare, Cochrane Library and Medline databases. Primary, qualitative, peer reviewed, English language research articles were assessed according to inclusion/exclusion criteria. Articles were systematically assessed for inclusion or exclusion. Included studies were assessed using the Critical Appraisal Skills Programme qualitative studies checklist, Noblit and Hare’s seven-step meta-ethnography approach synthesised themes.
Results: Fourteen primary research articles were included. Six studies on 287 women focused on VBAC, and eight studies examined both VBAC and ERCS with 1861 women and 311 blogs. Thematic analysis yielded four primary themes: Influence of health professionals, impact of previous birth experience, optimal experience, and being in control.
Conclusion: This meta-ethnography highlights health professionals’ influence on women’s decision making. To assist in decision-making, women need supportive health professionals who provide the current evidence-informed information about risks and benefits of each mode of birth. Health professionals need skills to provide supportive shared decision-making, debrief women regarding indications for their primary caesarean, and address issues of safety, fear, and expectations of childbirth.
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