Background Maternal morbidity refers to pregnancy related complications, ranging in severity from chronic to acute, which occurs during pregnancy, labour or birth. There are multiple causes and treatments for maternal morbidity which can be either physical or psychological. This study aimed to explore women’s experiences of maternal morbidity.
Methods A qualitative semi-structured interview format was utilised. Purposive sampling was used to recruit fourteen women who were diagnosed with a maternal morbidity; nine women experienced one event including hypertensive disorders, haemorrhage, placenta praevia and gestational diabetes, while five women experienced two events or more. Interpretative phenomenological analysis was employed as the analytic strategy.
Results Findings revealed four superordinate themes; powerlessness, morbidity management, morbidity treatment and maternal behavioural responses. Women were accepting of the uncontrollable nature of the adverse outcome experienced. While being treated for trauma, women were satisfied to relinquish their autonomy to ensure the safety of themselves and their baby. However, these events can be debilitating. Women’s inability to control their own bodies due to the morbidity, contributed to high levels of frustration and anxiety. Morbidities impacted greatly on women’s quality of life and these effects can persist for a prolonged period after the event. Women felt that there was very little information provided to them on the practicalities of adjusting to the impairment.
Conclusion Findings suggest that healthcare providers should ensure that women who experience a maternal morbidity are fully consulted and have sufficient information on the morbidity including ongoing care/expectations in the home setting prior to discharge.
- maternal morbidities
- patient experience