The emotional journey of labour-Women's perspectives of the experience of labour moving towards birth

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Midwifery, 2014, 30 (3), pp. 371 - 377
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Background: there has been minimal exploration of women's emotional flow during labour and towards birth. This research aimed to capture woman's remembered experiences of this process. Method: a critical feminist standpoint methodology guided this research which used in depth interviews to explore the perspectives of 18 women who had experienced a spontaneous labour and birth. These women all had continuity of care from a known midwife. Findings: women described labour and birth in terms of their emotions. These emotions flowed from excitement at the beginning, to calm as they waited for the labour to strengthen. This waiting time was variable in length and the women were often able to continue with many aspects of normal life. As the labour intensified women described moving into a 'zone' of timelessness and spacelessness; a time of letting go of control. The external world was shut out. Some women described feeling overwhelmed as the birth approached, others felt intensely tired. During the birth the women returned to a state of alertness. Some described shock or disbelief. They were surprised at how effectively their body had worked and taken them through labour. Conclusion and implication for practice: women described labour as defined by their emotions. The feelings described were linear and consistent and may be an indication of normal labour and birth physiology. These descriptions may be helpful when supporting women during labour and birth. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd.
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