A recent study conducted by scientists in Spain has identified four factors associated with childbirth that seem to make new mothers happiest - vaginal birth, no epidural anesthesia, attentive hospital staff, and family members to offer support, encouragement, and commencement of breastfeeding within the first 24 hours after delivery.

The study was a collaborative effort by the Cienfuegos University of Medical Science in Cuba and scientists in Spain at these institutions: the Eastern Andalusia Health Research Foundation (FIBAO), the San Cecilio University Hospital in Granada, and the University of Granada. The objective of the study was to gauge a woman’s level of satisfaction with childbirth services using the attention she got at the time of labor and delivery, who was with her during the experience, and how long she breastfed afterward as measures of satisfaction.

Sixty new mothers who delivered babies between August 2011 and August 2012 at the San Cecilio University Hospital were monitored on site during the first 24 hours after delivery. Their level of satisfaction was assessed via telephone interviews on day 14 after delivery and again 3 months later. At the 3-month mark, the baby’s method of feeding was included in the study.

Most of the mothers in the study reported high levels of satisfaction but three factors seemed to generate the highest degree of happiness:

Also important was the woman’s interaction with the people surrounding her during the experience. A helpful, attentive hospital staff and the company of loving family members and friends added to the satisfaction level of the women reporting the highest degree of happiness with their experience.

Maria Jose Aguilar Cordero identifies several reasons the mother’s satisfaction level is important:

  • The happiest mothers nurse their babies longer than those not happy.
  • The happiest mothers were more likely to still be breastfeeding at the 3-month mark.
  • Women happy with their childbirth experience and with breastfeeding are less likely to be adversely affected by postpartum depression.
  • Hospitals can evaluate maternity-care procedures and make improvements that better satisfy their maternity patients.

Aguilar Cordero is the principal author of the study, published in the Spanish medical journal, Nutricion Hospitalaria (Hospital Nutrition). She is also a professor of nursing at the University of Granada.

Source: “Vaginal birth without epidural anesthesia and being accompanied during labour results in happier mothers.” Medical News Today. MediLexicon International Ltd. Dec 15, 2013. Web. Dec 17, 2013.