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The women's perspective of childbirth pain

Authors Sigfridur Inga Karlsdottir
Sigridur Halldorsdottir
Ingela Lundgren
Published in 31th ICM Triennial Congress 18-22 June 2017
Publication year 2017
Published at Institute of Health and Care Sciences
Language en
Subject categories Nursing, Reproductive health, Other Medical Sciences


Background: Woman’s perspective on pain in childbirth may be called the ‘third perspective’ in labour pain preparation and management; the first being the midwifery perspective and the second the medical perspective. In western society pain is often seen as a negative phenomenon. However, it can be of great importance for women and midwives to acknowledge that pain can be regarded not only in a negative light but also in a positive light. Purpose/Objective: The purpose of the study was to explore women’s experience of labour pain and their strategies to manage the pain in normal childbirth. Method: A phenomenological approach using the Vancouver school of doing phenomenology guided the process. Data were collected through 14 in-depth interviews. Fourteen women, seven primiparas and seven multiparas, all having normal labour with different kinds of pain management. They all had normal pregnancies and healthy babies. The interviews took place from 8-52 hours after birth. Key Findings: The phenomenon of labour pain was constructed by the participants’ descriptions of the pain itself; how the pain made them feel; the context of the pain; the importance of talking about the pain afterwards; and changed ideas about pain after the birth. The three main strategies to manage the pain was constructed of the women’s descriptions of developing strategies during pregnancy to manage the pain during childbirth; strategies used by the women when the pain was not yet too bad and strategies used by the women when the pain got worse. Having a good midwife to help them manage the pain and a spouse present to help them in managing the pain. Discussion: Midwives must strengthen women’s self-confidence, facilitating recognition of her own strengths and capacities during birth and guide women to develop their own strategies to manage the pain before and through birth.

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