Being Pregnant: A Qualitative Study of Women's Lived Experience of Pregnancy
Publication Date:October 2005
Few studies of pregnancy have been designed to include the pregnant woman's perspective. This qualitative study was conducted to explore women's perspectives of their experience of pregnancy. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 13 pregnant women (24-39 years). The analysis revealed six major themes: support during pregnancy; experience of pregnancy; finding information; changing values; model of care; and being responsible. Results suggest that women's experience of pregnancy may be enhanced offering guidance and enabling access to multiple sources of support. Future research into the health-care professional's role, and the ways in which pregnant women connect with each other, is supported.
KEY WORDS: Pregnancy, qualitative, social support.
Aaronson, L.S. (1989). Perceived and received support: effects on health behavior during pregnancy. Nursing Research, 38(1), 4-9.
Bondas, T., & Eriksson, K. (2001). Women's lived experiences of pregnancy: a tapestry of joy and suffering. Qualitative Health Research, 11(6), 824-840.
Bost, K.K., Cox, M.J., Burchinal, M.R., & Payne, C. (2002). Structural and supportive changes in couples' family and friendship networks across the transition to parenthood. Journal of Marriage and Family, 64(2), 517.
Chamberlain, D.B. (2003). Communicating with the mind of a prenate: guidelines for parents and birth professionals. Journal of Prenatal and Perinatal Psychology and Health, 18(2), 95-108.
Collins, N.L., Dunkel-Schetter, C.I., Lobel, M., & Scrimshaw, S. (1993). Social support in pregnancy: psychosocial correlates of birth outcomes and postpartum depression. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 65(6), 1243-1258.
DiPietro, J.A., Hilton, S.C., Hawkins, M., Costigan, K.A., & Pressman, E.K. (2002). Maternal stress and affect influence neurobehavioral development. Developmental Psychology, 38(5), 659-668.
Epstein, S. & Meier, P. (1989). Constructive thinking: a broad coping variable with specific components. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 57, 332-350.
Feldman, P.J., Dunkel-Schetter, C., Sandman, C.A., & Wadhwa, P.D. (2000). Maternal social support predicts birth weight and fetal growth in human pregnancy. Psychosomatic Medicine, 62, 715-725.
Harrison, M.J., Neufield, A., & Kusner, K. (1995). Women in transition: access and barriers to social support. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 21(5), 858-864.
Howell-White, S. (1997). Choosing a birth attendant: the influence of a woman's childbirth definition. Social Science Medicine, 45(6), 925-936.
Huizink, A.C., Robles de Medina, P.O., Mulder, E.J.H., Visser, G.H.A., & Buitelaar, J.K. (2003). Stress during pregnancy is associated with developmental outcome in infancy. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 44(6), 810-818.
Hurdle, D.E. (2001). Social support: a critical factor in women's health and health promotion. Health and Social Work, 26, 72-79.
Korenbrot, C.C., & Moss, N.B. (2000). Preconception, prenatal, perinatal, and postnatal influences on health, from http://www.nap.edu/openbook/0309071755/html/125.html
Levy-Shiff, R., Dimitrovsky, L., Shulman, S., & Har-Evan, D. (1998). Cognitive appraisals, coping strategies, and support resources as correlates of parenting and infant development. Developmental Psychology, 34(6), 1417-1427.
Lobel, M., DeVincent, C.J., Kaminer, A., & Meyer, B.A. (2000). The impact of prenatal maternal stress and optimistic disposition on birth outcomes in medically high-risk women. Health Psychology, 19(6), 544-553.
Maykut, P., & Morehouse, R. (1994). Beginning Qualitative Research: A philosophic and practical guide. London: The Palmer Press.
Melender, H. (2002). Experiences of fears associated with pregnancy and childbirth: a study of 329 pregnant women. Birth, 29(2), 101.
O'Connor, T.G., Heron, J., & Glover, V. (2002). Antenatal anxiety predicts child behavioral/emotional problems independently of postnatal depression. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 41(12), 1470-1477.
Park, C.L., Moore, P.J., Turner, R.A., & Adler, N.E. (1997). The roles of constructive thinking and optimism in psychological and behavioral adjustment during pregnancy. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 73(3), 584-592.
Patton, M.Q. (2002). Qualitative Research and Evaluation Methods. 3rd Ed. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications Ltd.
Rini, C.K., Dunkel-Schetter, C.I., Wadhwa, P.O., & Sandman, C.A. (1999). Psychological adaptation and birth outcomes: the role of personal resources, stress, and socioculturel context in pregnancy. Health Psychology, 18(4), 333-345.
Roesch, S.C., Dunkel-Schetter, C., Woo, G., & Hobel, C.J. (2004). Modeling the types and timing of stress in pregnancy. Anxiety, Stress and Coping, 17(1), 87-102.
Ryding, E.L., Wijma, B., Wijma, K., & Rydhstrom, H. (1998). Fear of childbirth during pregnancy may increase the risk of emergency cesarean section. Acta Obstetricia et Gynecologica Scandinavica, 77, 542-547.
Salisbury, A., Law, K., LaGasse, L., & Lester, B. (2003). Maternal-fetal attachment. Journal of the American Medical Association, 289(13), 1701-1702.
Salmero-Aro, K., Nurmi, J., Saisto, T., & Halmesmaki, E. (2001). Goal reconstruction and depressive symptoms during the transition to motherhood: evidence from two cross-lagged longitudinal studies. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 81(6), 1144-1159.
Schaffer, M.A., & Lia-Hoagberg, B. (1997). Effects of social support on prenatal care and health behaviors of low-income women. Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic, and Neonatal Nursing, 26, 433-440.
Seligman, M.E.P., & Csikszentmihalyi, M. (2000). Positive psychology: an introduction. American Psychologist, 55(1), 5-14.
Stanton, A.L., Lobel, M., Sears, S., & DeLuca, R.S. (2002). Psychosocial aspects of selected issues in women's reproductive health: current status and future directions. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 70(3), 751-770.
Thompson, L.M., Murphy, P., O'Hara, J., & Wallymahmed, A. (1997). Levels of daily hassles and uplifts in employed and non-employed pregnant women. Journal of Reproductive and Infant Psychology, 15, 271-280.
Walker, L.O., & Grobe, S.J. (1999). The construct of thriving in pregnancy and postpartum. Nursing Science Quarterly, 12(2), 151.
Toni M. Armstrong and Julie Ann Pooley
Edith Cowan University, Western Australia
Send correspondence to: Julie Ann Pooley, School of Psychology, Edith Cowan University, 100 Joondalup Dve, Joondalup, Perth, Western Australia, 6027. Phone 618 6304 5591; fax: 618 6304 5834; email: firstname.lastname@example.org