Background: Nearly a third of women in the United States deliver by cesarean at first childbirth. The extent to which women's prenatal mode of delivery preference contributes to the cesarean decision is not clear. Little research has measured pregnant nulliparous women's prelabor mode of delivery preference in relation to actual mode of delivery in the United States. Materials and Methods: A total of 3006 pregnant nulliparous women were asked about mode of delivery preference during pregnancy as part of the First Baby Study, a prospective study of women delivering in Pennsylvania hospitals, 2009-2011. Multivariable regression models were used to assess the association between women's preference for cesarean delivery and two decision stages: (1) the decision to have planned prelabor cesarean and (2) the intrapartum decision to have unplanned cesarean among those attempting vaginal delivery, adjusting for confounders. Results: Overall, 3.1% preferred cesarean delivery, 3.0% had no preference, and 93.9% preferred vaginal. Among those who preferred vaginal delivery, 4% had a planned cesarean; among those with no preference, 13.3% did; and among those who preferred cesarean, 33.7% did. In adjusted models, preference for cesarean was strongly associated with having planned prelabor cesarean (adjusted odds ratio [aOR] = 6.02; 95% confidence interval [CI] = 3.26-11.12), but was not significantly associated with unplanned cesarean among those who attempted vaginal delivery (aOR = 1.35; 95% CI = 0.77-2.38). Conclusions: Although preference for cesarean delivery among nulliparous women was uncommon, women who preferred cesarean were more likely to have planned prelabor cesarean delivery than those who preferred vaginal delivery.
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