Mount expert discusses the value of patient-centered care during the birth experience

February 06, 2019

Yasmine Konheim-Kalkstein, associate professor of Psychology at Mount Saint Mary College, recently gave her talk “Birth Plans Gone Awry: Reactions, Reassurances, and Regrets.”

Creating a birth plan can empower women and improve the birthing experience, but what happens when birth plans go awry?
Yasmine Konheim-Kalkstein, assistant vice president for Academic Affairs and associate professor of Psychology at Mount Saint Mary College, discussed her research into the topic at her recent talk, “Birth Plans Gone Awry: Reactions, Reassurances, and Regrets.”
Even with a plan in place, like many other medical experiences, giving birth does not always unfold according to expectations. Risks to the mother’s health or evidence that the baby might be in distress may precipitate the need for inductions, cesarean deliveries, or instrumental deliveries.
“While it is understandable that medical events may present unexpected challenges, these challenges can have emotional consequences,” Kalkstein notes, adding, “20 to 33 percent of women report birth as traumatic and this particularly occurs when the birth strays from the plan.”
Kalkstein examined how regrets were predicted by personality variables, childbirth preparation, and support during labor and delivery, and highlighted the importance of women advocating for themselves in lessening regrets. This line of research informs how we can improve healthcare provider-patient communication in instances where birth plans go awry, she said.
What’s critical when birth doesn’t go according to plan, said Kalkstein, is administering patient-centered care. In order to mitigate frustrations and regrets, medical personnel should keep women informed of unforeseen challenges and changes to the plan, as well as actively listening to their concerns. Even in situations where a child is born healthy, women may still have a negative experience if they feel ignored or under-informed during the birthing process.
The talk was based on work Kalkstein started recently while in Israel on a Fulbright Senior Scholar Fellowship. She worked with Talya Miron-Shatz, the director of the Center of Medical Decision Making at Ono Academic College in Kiryat Ono, Israel.
Kalksten earned an undergraduate degree in Biopsychology from University of Virginia, spent a year as an NIH Fellow doing genetic research on diabetes, and then completed a Ph.D. in Educational Psychology at University of Minnesota. She taught at St. Olaf College, University of Minnesota, and North Hennepin Community College before joining the Mount in 2010. Her research has included topics ranging from academic integrity, motivation, and improving classroom instruction to risk perception and medical decision making.
The talk was part of the college’s Investigating Research on Campus (iROC) series. The goal of iROC is to “provide a forum for Mount faculty, staff, and students to showcase their research endeavors with both Mount Saint Mary College and the local community in a manner easily understood by attendees,” explained series coordinators Evan Merkhofer, assistant professor of Biology, and Jennifer Park, assistant librarian for Access and Outreach services. Presentations include research proposals, initial data collection, and completed research projects.
Mount Saint Mary College is ranked a Top-Tier University by U.S. News & World Report, and offers bachelor’s and master’s degree programs for careers in healthcare, business, education, social services, communications, media, and the liberal arts.