Being Pregnant: A Qualitative Study of Women's Lived Experience of Pregnancy
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