1. Heaman, Maureen PhD, RN

Article Content

Chalmers, B., Dzakpasu, S., Heaman, M., & Kaczorowski, J., for the Maternity Experiences Study Group of the Canadian Perinatal Surveillance System, Public Health Agency of Canada. (2008). Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology Canada, 30, 217-228.


The Maternity Experiences Survey (MES) is the first national survey of Canadian women's experiences, practices, perceptions, and knowledge during pregnancy, birth, and the early postpartum months. A randomly selected sample of 8,542 women stratified by province and territory was drawn from the 2006 Canadian census, and 6,421 women (78% response rate) participated in a computer-assisted telephone interview between 5 and 10 months postpartum. Mothers who were at least 15 years of age, gave birth in Canada to singleton infants, and were living with their infants at the time of the interview were eligible to participate in the survey. The findings suggest a higher use of selected interventions among women giving birth or attempting to give birth vaginally than is recommended by current evidence. For example, 47.9% of women reported giving birth in a supine position, whereas 57.0% had their legs in stirrups. Perineal or pubic shaving was reported by 19.1% of women, and 5.4% received an enema. Implementation of the WHO/UNICEF (1989) Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding varied. Most mothers reported being given information about breastfeeding prenatally and receiving help from a healthcare provider to start breastfeeding. However, less than one third of women first held their baby skin to skin after birth, 35.8% of women were given or offered free formula samples, 17.7% reported breastfeeding on a fixed schedule rather than on demand, and only 65% had their baby in their room 24 hours a day. These results suggest areas for improvement in implementing evidence-based practice. Other results were more positive. More than 90% of women were accompanied by their partners during labor and birth, and most were "very satisfied" with the support they received during labor (82.7%) and birth (87%). Policy makers, administrators, and clinicians can use the survey results to improve the quality of maternity services.


Maureen Heaman




World Health Organization/United Nations Children's Fund. (1989). Tens steps to successful breastfeeding. Geneva: WHO.