Background: Information is still scarce on the birthing experience of women who participate in antenatal systematic education programs. The objective of the study was to report the experience of labor as described by nulliparous women who participated and who did not in a systematic Birth Preparation Program (BPP).
Method: A qualitative study was conducted with eleven women who participated in a BPP and ten women attending routine prenatal care selected through purposeful sampling. The BPP consisted of systematized antenatal group meetings structured to provide physical exercise and information on pain prevention during pregnancy, the role of the pelvic floor muscles, the physiology of labor, and pain relief techniques. A single, semi-structured interview was conducted with each participant. All interviews were recorded, transcribed verbatim and thematic analyses performed. The relevant themes were organized in the following categories of analysis: control of labor, positions adopted during labor, and satisfaction with labor.
Results: Women who participated in the systematic educational activities of the BPP reported they maintained self-control during labor and used breathing exercises, exercises on the ball, massage, baths and vertical positions to control pain. Also they reported satisfaction with their birthing experience. Women who did not participate in systematic educational activities referred to difficulties in maintaining control during labor and almost half of them reported lack of control. Also they were more likely to report dissatisfaction with labor.
Conclusions: Women who participated in the BPP reported self-control during labor and used non-pharmacological techniques to control pain and facilitate labor and expressed satisfaction with the birthing experience.