‘Mind you, there’s no anaesthetist on the road’: women’s experiences of labouring en route
Citation: Dietsch E, Shackleton P, Davies C, Alston M, McLeod M. ‘Mind you, there’s no anaesthetist on the road’: women’s experiences of labouring en route. Rural and Remote Health (Internet) 2010; 10: 1371. Available: http://www.rrh.org.au/articles/subviewnew.asp?ArticleID=1371 (Accessed 18 October 2017)
Introduction: The aim of this article was to learn from women in rural New South Wales (NSW) Australia, their experiences of labouring en route to birth in a centralised maternity unit.
Methods: This qualitative study was exploratory and descriptive. It was part of a larger project that explored women’s experiences when they birthed away from their rural communities. Participants were recruited from communities all over rural NSW where a maternity unit had closed. Forty-two female participants and three of their male partners shared their stories of 73 labours and births. This article draws on data collected during in-depth interviews with 12 participants and one partner who shared their experiences of labouring en route to a centralised maternity service. Interviews were audiotaped and transcribed verbatim for the purpose of thematic analysis. Exemplars, using the participants’ own words and highlighting story are identified as a tool used for data synthesis and presentation.
Results: Two themes were identified. These relate to the way the risk of dangerous road travel is ignored in obstetric risk discourse, and the deprivations experienced when women labour en route. An unexpected finding was the positive nature of one woman’s experience of birthing by the side of the road.
Conclusions: Many participants questioned why they needed to risk unsafe road travel when their preference was to labour and birth in their local communities with a midwife.
Key words: Australia, midwifery, risk, rural/remote services, rural women’s health, safety.
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