Mothers' Lived Experiences of Childbirth

Monday, 18 November 2013: 10:20 AM

Mary Reid Nichols, PhD, APRN, FNP
Family Nursing Department, Frontier Nursing University, Hyden, KY

Learning Objective 1: The learner will be able to describe specific qualitative data findings of maternal lived childbirth experiences and themes related to: caring, connection and control.

Learning Objective 2: The learner will be able to describe application of study findings to nursing practice, specifically clinical interventions and future research.

Despite effects on adjustment to motherhood, a woman’s childbirth experience is an important yet often under-reported phenomenon. The purposes of the larger mixed method study were to examine intrapartal and postpartum adjustment to new parenthood among psychosocial variables and to describe maternal childbirth experiences. This report will focus on the qualitative data, the lived experiences of childbirth from a subsample of first time mothers. This descriptive longitudinal study focused on quantitative and qualitative data from subjects recruited from military and civilian prenatal settings and included responses from 146 married first-time mothers, aged 18-39, at 6-8 weeks after the delivery of a healthy newborn. The focus of the current report is to describe quantitative data: personal variables (demographics, paternal-fetal attachment), intrapartal variables (childbirth satisfaction, paternal childbirth involvement) and postpartum variables (parenting sense of competence, ease of transition to parenthood) as well as perspectives about childbirth experiences for a subsample of 100 mothers. The qualitative data was examined for themes using content analysis where the maternal childbirth experiences were described as being both positive and negative. Findings supported the Nichols’ Adjustment to New Parenthood Model where intrapartal and postpartum variables are positively correlated and prenatal and intrapartal variables are predictive of positive adjustment to parenthood. Mothers reported positive and negative aspects about her perceptions of the birth experience and analysis of responses to the open-ended questions resulted in three themes: caring, connection and control.  Maternal childbirth experiences have been found to have an impact on overall family adjustment and the current findings are expected to guide future research designed to identify resources for childbearing families. The findings are also expected to guide the development and testing of clinical interventions designed to maximize childbirth and new parent experiences and to further test the application of the Adjustment to New Parenthood Model.