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Women Planning and Experiencing Pregnancy and Childbirth: Information Needs and Sources  

Cheryl Benn, RCpN, RM, IBCLE, DipNEd, MCur (Midwifery), DCur (Midwifery) P. Elizabeth, South Africa. Associate Professor, School of Health Sciences, Massey University, Palmerston North.  

Rachel Claire Budge, PhD (Psychology), Massey. Research Officer, School of Psychology and Research Assistant, School of Health Sciences, Massey University, Palmerston North.  

Gillian Eyres White, SCM, MTD, BEd, MA Auckland, DipSocSc (Psychology), PhD Tasmania. Senior Lecturer, School of Health Sciences, Massey University, Albany Campus.

ABSTRACT

This paper reports the preliminary findings of a study of women planning a pregnancy and perinatal women with respect to their information needs and the sources of information they use. Fifty women, 7 planning a pregnancy, 30 pregnant and 13 postnatal, completed a questionnaire including questions about who they had approached for information about pregnancy issues, who had given them advice and why it was or was not useful, what they would currently like to know, and what they wished they had known during the previous three months. Results highlighted differences in the type of information provided by various sources: doctors and specialists were seen as primarily providing factual information; midwives also supplied information but more importantly gave reassurance and support; partners did not provide information but were valued for their support in a shared experience; and mothers and friends were primarily useful due to their own experiences. The findings also suggested the importance of information that is relevant to the women’s current stage of pregnancy.  

Keywords: Pregnancy, information needs, information sources  

INTRODUCTION

There is a range of resources available that attest to women’s educational needs at the time of pregnancy and parenthood. These include books and magazines on pregnancy and parenting, newspaper articles, health education pamphlets, textbooks for health professionals, a range of videos and the availability of pregnancy, parenting and childbirth classes. Unfortunately, most of the available information appears to be based on what health professionals consider women need to know rather than on what women themselves feel they need. The latter area appears to have Nursing Praxis in New Zealand Vol. 14 No. 3 1999 Page 5 been little researched, although there are some study findings which suggest that perceptions of learning needs differ between childbearing women and health professionals (Beger & Cook, 1998; Proctor, 1998) and that care providers should listen to new mothers to determine their support needs (Gottlieb & Mendelson, 1995). Continued

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