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The meaning of a poor childbirth experience - A qualitative phenomenological study with women in Rwanda.

Journal article
Authors Judith U Mukamurigo
Anna Dencker
Joseph Ntaganira
Marie Berg
Published in PloS one
Volume 12
Issue 12
Pages e0189371
ISSN 1932-6203
Publication year 2017
Published at Institute of Health and Care Sciences
Pages e0189371
Language en
Subject categories Health Sciences


Being pregnant and giving birth is a pivotal life event and one that a woman ordinarily remembers for most of her life. A negative childbirth experience can affect a woman's health well beyond the episode of the labour and birth itself. This study explored the meaning of a poor childbirth experience, as expressed by women who had given birth in Rwanda.In a cross-sectional household study conducted in Northern Province and in Kigali City, the capital of Rwanda, a structured questionnaire was answered by women who had given birth one to 13 months earlier. One question, answered by 898 women, asked them to rate their overall experience of childbirth from 0 (very bad) to 10 (very good). Of these, 28 women (3.1%) who had rated their childbirth experience as bad (≤ 4) were contacted for individual interviews. Seventeen of these women agreed to participate in individual in-depth interviews. The texts were analysed with a reflective lifeworld approach.The essential meaning of a "poor" childbirth experience was that the women had been exposed to disrespectful care, constituted by neglect, verbal or physical abuse, insufficient information, and denial of their husband as a companion. The actions of carers included abandonment, humiliation, shaming and insult, creating feelings of insecurity, fear and distrust in the women. Two of the women did not report any experience of poor care; their low rating was related to having suffered from medical complications.It is challenging that the main finding is that women are exposed to disrespectful care. In an effort to provide an equitable and high quality maternal health care system in Rwanda, there is a need to focus on activities to implement respectful, evidence-based care for all. One such activity is to develop and provide education programmes for midwives and nurses about professional behaviour when caring for and working with women during labour and birth.

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