Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



School of Nursing


Adult Health

Committee Chair

Kari Sand-Jecklin

Committee Co-Chair

Janet Bryanton

Committee Member

Ilana Chertok

Committee Member

Leslie Cottrell

Committee Member

Stacey Culp


This paper describes the development and testing of the Women's Experience in Childbirth Survey (WECS). Although many qualitative and quantitative studies of the childbirth experience have been published, there is no comprehensive instrument that measures the physical, emotional, cognitive, and social aspects of the experience. Forty nine Likert-type items were generated from review of the literature and feedback from mothers participating in two pilot studies. Content validity was analyzed with both pilot studies. For this study, the WECS was administered to 305 inpatient post-partum women at two community hospitals. A sub sample of women completed the WECS at least two weeks after discharge for test-re-test reliability analysis. Data analysis identified four sub-scales that aligned with the conceptual framework: Support during Childbirth, Physical and Emotional Responses to Childbirth, Transformative Experience of Childbirth, and Handling Pain. The number of items was reduced to 42 based on factor analysis. Validity of the WECS was supported by comparison to known groups: age, parity, length of labor, support, and medical interventions. Reliability of the WECS was measured by an alpha coefficient = .87; alpha coefficients for the subscale scores ranged between .66 and .82. Test-retest analysis found no significant difference between inpatient WECS scores and post-discharge scores, although three of the subscale scores were significantly different from time to time. Overall, the WECS appears to be a sufficiently valid and reliable instrument that would benefit from further development. A fully developed WECS could be used to determine the most significant aspects of a multidimensional experience in order to improve care and assist the woman in her transition to becoming a mother.