Objective: To obtain the views of women on the impact of operative delivery in the second stage of labour. <br/>Design: Qualitative interview study. <br/>Setting: Two urban teaching hospitals in the United Kingdom. <br/>Participants: Purposive sample of 27 women who had undergone operative delivery in the second stage of labour between January 2000 and January 2002. <br/>Key themes: Preparation for birth, understandings of the indications for operative delivery, and explanation or debriefing after birth. <br/>Results: The women felt unprepared for operative delivery and thought that their birth plan or antenatal classes had not catered adequately for this event. They emphasised the importance of maintaining an open mind about the management of labour. They had difficulty understanding the need for operative delivery despite a review by medical and midwifery staff before discharge. Operative delivery had a noticeable impact on women's views about future pregnancy and delivery. <br/>Conclusions: Women consider postnatal debriefing and medical review important deficiencies in current care. Those who experienced operative delivery in the second stage of labour would welcome the opportunity to have a later review of their intrapartum care, physical recovery, and management of future pregnancies
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