Women's experiences of recovery from childbirth: Focus on pelvis problems that extend beyond the puerperium

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Journal Article
Journal of Clinical Nursing, 2009, 18 (14), pp. 2013 - 2019
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Aims. This study aimed to build understandings of women's recovery experiences in the presence of continued pelvic problems extending beyond the puerperium to provide nurses and other health care professionals with information to enhance current practice. Background. Trauma to the pelvic floor during childbirth is a relatively common occurrence and can include damage to structures and nerves. A significant number of women will experience ongoing physical pelvic problems resulting from childbirth that extend past the puerperium; however, little is known about the experiential aspects of recovery for these women. Design. A qualitative, phenomenological study. Method. Narrative data were collected during conversational interviews with 10 mothers who had sustained pelvic injury during the birth process that persisted past the puerperium. Recruitment was via media releases and brochures distributed through childcare facilities. The data was analysed using Van Manen's thematic analysis. Results. The themes that arose from the analysis were: 'fearing intimacy','managing an unpredictable body', 'being resigned' and 'feeling devalued and dismissed'. Conclusions. Pelvic injuries that extend beyond the postpartum period are distressing for women. They negatively affect women's views of themselves and have an impact on various aspects of life including intimate relationships and social activities. Relevance to clinical practice. Currently, postpartum care may have a focus on baby rather than mother and this focus may impede women making full disclosures of ongoing health needs arising from their delivery. Findings of this study suggest that women may have specific needs that extend beyond the puerperium, indicating a need for continued holistic assessments and extending practice to identify and support women experiencing persistent pelvic postpartum complications. © 2009 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.
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