Processing the first birth: Journeying into 'motherland'

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Journal Article
Journal of Clinical Nursing, 2010, 19 (13-14), pp. 1977 - 1985
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Aims and objectives: To explore first-time mothers' experiences of birth at home and in hospital in Australia. Background: The first birth has unique physical and psychological impacts on women. With the first birth, women become mothers. Design: A grounded theory methodology was used. Data were generated from in-depth interviews with women in their own homes. Methods: Nineteen women were interviewed in Sydney, Australia. The experiences of seven women who gave birth for the first time in a public hospital and seven women who gave birth for the first time at home were contrasted with two mothers who gave birth for the first time in birth centres, one mother who gave birth for the first time in a private hospital and two women who had given birth more than once. Results: Following the birth, women 'processed the birth' by 'remembering', 'talking (storytelling)' and 'feeling'. This activity appeared to help most women resolve their feelings about the birth and understand what it actually means to be a new mother. 'Personal and social integration' occurred for most women as they entered 'motherland'. Conclusion: First-time mothers appear to 'process the birth' to a greater extent than multiparous women because they are experiencing this for the first time. These women also have limited social networks in 'motherland', and these are facilitated through sharing the experiences of their labour or 'processing the birth'. Relevance to clinical practice: Identifying the novice status of first-time mothers and understanding the way they process the birth can help health providers to be sensitive to the specific needs of primiparous women. In particular, their need to tell their birth stories following birth; understanding that these stories help women to process the birth and connect to other women. © 2010 The Authors. Journal compilation © 2010 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.
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