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Being in limbo: Women's lived experiences of pregnancy at 41 weeks of gestation and beyond - A phenomenological study

Journal article
Authors Anna Wessberg
Ingela Lundgren
Helen Elden
Published in BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth
Volume 17
Publication year 2017
Published at Institute of Health and Care Sciences
Language en
Keywords Experiences, Lifeworld, Phenomenology, Post term pregnancy, Prenatal care
Subject categories Other Medical Sciences, Reproductive health, Nursing


© 2017 The Author(s).Background: Globally, the prevalence of post term pregnancy (PTP) is about 5-10%, but the rate varies considerably between and within countries. PTP is defined as a pregnancy ≥294days, but the definition is arbitrary. Many studies focusing on the prevalence, risks and management of PTP include pregnancies ≥41 gestational weeks (GW). However, qualitative interview studies concerning women's experiences of PTP are lacking. Therefore, the aim of this study was to describe women's lived experiences of a pregnancy ≥41 GW. Method: The study has a lifeworld research approach. Individual in-depth interviews were conducted from August 2013 to September 2014 with 10 healthy women with an expected normal pregnancy at GW 41+1-6days in Gothenburg, Sweden. Interviews were conducted at the antenatal clinic or in the woman's home, depending on her preference. Data were analysed with a phenomenological reflective lifeworld approach. Result: The essence of women's experiences of a pregnancy at GW≥41 was described as being in limbo, a void characterised by contradictions related to time, giving birth and the condition. Exceeding the estimated date of childbirth implied a period of up to 2 weeks that was not expected. The contradictory aspect was the notion that time passed both slowly and quickly. Negative feelings dominated and increased over time. The women experienced difficulty due to not being in complete control, while at the same time finding it a beneficial experience. Health care professionals focused solely on the due date, while the women felt neither seen nor acknowledged. Lack of information led to searches in social media. Previously, they had trusted the body's ability to give birth, but this trust diminished after GW 41+0. In this state of limbo, the women became more easily influenced by people around them, while in turn influencing others. Conclusions: Being in limbo represents a contradictory state related to time and process of giving birth, when women need to be listened to by healthcare professionals. An understanding of the importance of different information sources, such as family and friends, is necessary. It is vital that women are seen and acknowledged by midwives at the antenatal clinics. In addition, they should be asked how they experience waiting for the birth in order to create a sense of trust and confidence in the process.

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