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An Effort to Make All the Pieces Come Together: Women's Long-Term Perspectives on Their Experiences of Intense Fear of Childbirth

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Abstract:

Women's experiences of childbirth can be both empowering and traumatic, and negative experiences might lead to fear of forthcoming births. Our aim with this phenomenological study was to describe the meaning of fear of childbirth and of birth drawing on women's long-term perspectives. Six women who had sought help for intense fear of childbirth because of a negative birth experience during their second or third pregnancy 7–11 years ago were interviewed. The essential structure of the phenomenon is "an effort to make all the pieces come together" with the constituents: Every childbirth is a narrative that lingers on, fear of childbirth is connected to the period of childbearing, and the experiences of childbirth are central life experiences.

Our findings suggest that fear of childbirth and childbirth experiences have been linked together and integrated as important life experiences. It seems like the meaning of the childbirth experiences can be expressed by women in several nuances and tones, indicating the complexity of the experience. The fear of childbirth has lost its importance and is connected to the previous difficult childbirth experience. It is important to understand women's fear of childbirth and birth experiences with respect to individual needs.

Keywords: FEAR OF CHILDBIRTH; LONG-TERM PERSPECTIVE; NARRATIVES; NEGATIVE EXPERIENCE; PHENOMENOLOGY; TRAUMA

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1891/2156-5287.2.4.255

Publication date: December 1, 2012

More about this publication?
  • The International Journal of Childbirth is a peer-reviewed, quarterly journal publishing original research, reviews, and case studies concerned with the practice of midwifery, women's health, prenatal care, and the birth process. The journal encourages the exploration of the complex and contextual issues surrounding childbirth provision and outcomes and invites manuscripts from a wide range of clinical, theoretical, political, methodological, psychological, public health, policy, and multicultural and interdisciplinary perspectives.
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