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A survey of women’s birth experiences in Scotland using the Birth Satisfaction Scale (BSS)

Caroline Hollins Martin, Colin Martin


Background: ‘Birth satisfaction’ is important since experience of labour can influence women’s post-natal adjustment.

Objective: To explore: (1) childbearing women’s experiences of ‘birth satisfaction’ and (2) identify contexts in which it is more appropriate to use the 30-item Birth Satisfaction Scale (BSS) or the 10-item BSS-Revised (BSS-R).

Study design: A quantitative survey was conducted using the 30-item BSS. As a function of completing the 30-item BSS, participants also completed the short-form 10-item BSS-R.

Participants: A convenience sample of post-natal women (n=228) attending for National Health Service (NHS) care at the Ayrshire Maternity Unit in the West of Scotland (UK) participated. Participants were within their first 10 post-natal days.

Results: The 30-item BSS mean scores = 115.84 (SD 14.05). The thematically determined subscale mean scores of quality of care provision (BSS-QC; 8-items), women’s personal attributes (BSS-WA; 8-items) and stress experienced during labour (BSS-SL;14-items) subscales, were 32.2 (4.09), 31.9 (4.16) and 51.73 (8.04) respectively. Women experienced greater ‘birth satisfaction’ when they had a Spontaneous Vertex Delivery compared with a complicated delivery. Primigravidas were generally less ‘birth satisfied’ than multiparous women.

Key conclusions: Overall assessment of care was complimentary, with global levels of ‘birth satisfaction’ generally high. In response to psychometric tests, the 30-item BSS has been trimmed down to a statistically robust, valid and reliable 10-item BSS-R.

Implications for practice: Now that a valid and reliable 10-item BSS has been developed to measure women’s experiences of childbirth, it can be used to assess differences between variables such as home and hospital birth, or to establish correlates with other valid measures. We advance our study as an important contribution to person-centered maternal healthcare.


Assessment, Birth Satisfaction Scale (BSS), Birth satisfaction, Maternity care, Midwives, Obstetrics

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