Academie Verloskunde Maastricht


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Focus group study on VBAC expectations and experiences

The OptiBirth study addressed the widespread concern over rising Caesarean section rates throughout Europe, particularly routine CS following a previous CS, despite calls for increased vaginal births after Caesarean (VBAC).

Sept. 2012-Jan. 2013

VBAC is associated with lower maternal mortality than repeat CS, less overall morbidity for mothers and babies, and is the preferred option for the majority of women. VBAC rates in Ireland, Germany, and Italy are significantly lower (29-36%) than those in the Netherlands, Norway, and Sweden (45-55%).

The OptiBirth project used a cluster randomised trial in Ireland, Germany, and Italy, with 15 clusters of 94 women in each, to increase VBAC rates from 33% to 53% through a complex intervention designed to increase women-centred care and women's involvement in their care. The project runned over four years commencing September 2012.

This study was part of the European study OptiBirth and was supported by an FP7 grant from the European Union. The team was composed of 12 partner institutions from 8 countries, and includes service users, midwives, obstetricians, neonatologist, epidemiologist, sociologist, psychologist, bioethicist, health economist and a 'high-tech' small industry.

The AVMU was the Dutch partner in this project and executed several focusgroup interviews in 2012 involving maternity caregivers (midwives, gynecologists), pregnant women and their partners. This part of the study explored why the Netherlands has a much higher VBAC rates.