Separation, failure and temporary relinquishment: Women's experiences of early mothering in the context of emergency hysterectomy

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Journal of Clinical Nursing, 2012, 21 (7-8), pp. 1119 - 1127
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Aim. To describe the experiences of women who have had an emergency hysterectomy following a severe postpartum haemorrhage and the impact on their early mothering experiences. Background. Postpartum haemorrhage and subsequent hysterectomy is a traumatic birth event. Traumatic birth experiences have the potential to impact on a woman's experience of motherhood and her initial relationship with her baby. The relative rarity of this event makes it easy to dismiss the experiences of women having a hysterectomy following childbirth. Little is known about a woman's early mothering experience in the context of having an emergency hysterectomy. Design. Qualitative naturalistic inquiry approach. Method. Data were collected through semi-structured qualitative interviews from 21 Australian women who had an emergency hysterectomy following a severe postpartum haemorrhage. Results. Findings revealed three themes in relation to early mothering experiences in the context of having a hysterectomy following a severe postpartum haemorrhage. They were 'initial separation: lost bonding time', 'feelings of failure' and 'relinquishing care of the infant'. Conclusions. This paper highlights the ways undergoing emergency hysterectomy following childbirth can impact on the experience of early mothering in the postnatal period. Relevance to clinical practice. Greater recognition and attention to the specific needs of women who have an emergency hysterectomy following childbirth is required. Providing women with an opportunity to talk, debrief and ask questions related to their birthing experiences, will help women to reconcile their feelings. Giving women the opportunity to have their infants with them in intensive care unit, together with ongoing emotional support and anticipatory guidance, may also be useful approaches in assisting women during this difficult and traumatic time. © 2011 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.
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