The Lived Experience of Knowing in Childbirth

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Research on knowing in childbirth has largely been a quantitative process. The purpose of this study was to understand the ways first-time mothers learn about birth. A phenomenological approach, using a feminist view, was used to analyze two in-depth interviews and journals to understand nine first-time expectant mothers' experiences of knowing in childbirth. The findings demonstrated a range of knowledge that contributed to issues of control and conflict. The participants also described an increased dependency on their mothers and a lack of their own intuition contiguous to the birth process. These findings contribute understanding to how expectant mothers know birth, suggesting that their knowing does not diminish conflict surrounding the event and may even exacerbate it when not combined with learning skills to manage conflict. Childbirth educators may want to include instruction on negotiating power differential in relationships encountered during childbirth in order to strengthen a first-time mother's ability to receive the care she wants. Educators may also want to assess the expectant mother's view of birth and her expectations for birth. Schools of nursing should consider the inclusion of women-centered care curricula at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. The mothers' responses in this study clearly reveal that the politics surrounding birthing remain in place and must be removed in order to provide a supportive environment for normal birth.

Keywords: adult learners; childbirth education; intuition; maternal relationality

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: June 1, 2006

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