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Birth Experiences of Immigrant Latina Women in a New Growth Community

Carnahan, Meagan Kathleen (2011) Birth Experiences of Immigrant Latina Women in a New Growth Community. Master's Thesis, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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A woman's birth experience is consistently described as one of the most psychologically significant events of a woman's life and has been shown to impact the physical, psychosocial, and mental well-being of mothers long after the birth of their child. There is increasing public health importance in assessing the health and wellbeing of the Latino community as this population continues to expand into new-growth areas. The purpose of this study was to understand Latina's perceptions of their childbirth experience, what factors impact their perceptions, and whether other variables, such as insurance status, English proficiency level, and education level are associated with childbirth experience. In-depth, semi-structured interviews were conducted with a non-proportional quota sampling of ten Latina women, five of whom had insurance and five who were uninsured. All women gave birth within the previous twelve months in Allegheny County and were recruited from a Spanish-speaking pediatrics clinic. After analysis of the interviews, common themes were coded and an analytic memo was written in order to connect the themes together. Most women reported a positive global experience, however all recalled negative moments. Birth outcome and the birth of a healthy child were the most important factors influencing birth experiences for participants. The presence of a support person throughout childbirth and into the postpartum period, specifically the participant's husband or partner, also played a large role in childbirth perceptions. Communication problems, particularly for those with lower levels of English proficiency, negatively contributed to the event, while an amicable patient-provider relationship was associated with more positive memories. Locus of control, prior expectations of the birth event, and postpartum physical and emotional recovery also influenced experiences. There were differences found between insured and uninsured women, as insured women reported increased childbirth and postpartum support, decreased communication barriers, and higher levels of external control. Recommendations to improve birth experience are presented, and include increasing culturally sensitive care, and enhancing formal and informal postpartum support through strengthened social networks. Additional research is needed to further understand a number of themes, including desired locus of control, and the role of Latino culture during childbirth.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Carnahan, Meagan
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairDocumét, Patricia Ipdocumet@pitt.eduPDOCUMET
Committee MemberChaves-Gnecco, DiegoDiego.ChavesGnecco@chp.eduDGCST7
Committee MemberGuadamuz, Thomas Eteg10@pitt.eduTEG10
Date: 29 June 2011
Date Type: Completion
Defense Date: 13 April 2011
Approval Date: 29 June 2011
Submission Date: 31 March 2011
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: School of Public Health > Behavioral and Community Health Sciences
Degree: MPH - Master of Public Health
Thesis Type: Master's Thesis
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: birth experience; childbirth; hispanic; latino; maternal health
Other ID:, etd-03312011-142015
Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2011 19:33
Last Modified: 19 Dec 2016 14:35


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