Connecting movement and emotion for childbirth preparation : an exploratory study

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BACKGROUND During pregnancy, many women desire to develop self-confidence in their physical abilities and emotional strength to give birth. In order to achieve this, women often attend childbirth education classes. A number of studies show that traditional classes neither support women’s physical and emotional well-being, nor increase women’s self-confidence or affect women’s experience of childbirth. This led to a perceived need to develop a creative approach to exploring women’s physical and emotional transformation in preparation for childbirth. PURPOSE To investigate women’s perceptions of an innovative childbirth preparation programme that integrates the therapeutic strategies of movement therapy with midwifery. The study further explored women’s experience of how connecting motion (movement) and emotions contributes to women’s self-awareness, and might contribute to the woman’s birth experience. METHODS An exploratory, pre-post, qualitative study investigated five women’s participation in a specially designed, two-day, pre-birth workshop. Focus groups, before and after the workshop and one-to-one, semi-structured interviews were conducted six to eight weeks after birth. The interviews were digitally recorded and transcribed. Researcher memos and field notes recorded non-verbal communication and the language of movement in combination with the interview data. Data were analysed thematically. FINDINGS Three themes were identified where the therapeutic approach of movement therapy offered women ‘strategies to find their own tools’, supported ‘women’s dialogue’ and ‘connected the whole woman with her baby’. This innovative approach increased women’s self-awareness and created positive expectations of giving birth. Paying attention to themselves and learning through experiencing may raise women’s confidence in their ability to actively give birth.
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