Media reports have depicted vaginal birth as harmful and cesarean delivery as protective of sexuality, but research does not support these depictions. In a recent survey published in Birth, 16%-48% of participants endorsed beliefs consistent with these media reports, and individuals who endorsed these beliefs tended to identify as heterosexual; hold negative attitudes toward female genitalia; and report that reality, nonreality, and online media sources are influential in terms of childbirth information.
Individuals who reported that healthcare professionals were an influential source of information were less likely to endorse these beliefs.
"Although these depictions--of vaginal birth as harmful and cesarean delivery as protective of sexuality--are ubiquitous in popular media, we do not have a lot of information about how they are related to individuals' perceptions of and preferences for childbirth," said co-author Dr. Caroline Pukall, of Queen's University, in Ontario. "Understanding childbirth from the viewpoint of a future generation of potential child bearers can help create current, relevant conversations and appropriate reproductive health education content."