Exploring how women use the Alexander Technique: psycho-physical re-education in the postpartum

Hanefeld, Nicola

Health & social care
April 2021

Thesis or dissertation

© 2021 Nicola Hanefeld. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the written permission of the copyright holder.

Background The postpartum phase is a transitional period of heightened vulnerability for women with potentially compromised self-care. Fatigue and musculo-skeletal tension can impact well-being. While postnatal depression (PND) has received much research attention, a systematic literature review on lumbo-pelvic pain (LPP) in the postpartum for the years 2008-2018 revealed only ten randomised controlled treatment trials. This suggests that some aspects of the postpartum are under-researched. The Alexander Technique (AT) is a long- established holistic self-management approach shown to be effective in managing psycho- physical tension issues and heightening self-efficacy and self-care.

Research studies An interpretative phenomenological analysis explored how eight women with different amounts of AT-experience with babies under a year used the method in the postpartum. Findings suggest that participants used a variety of self-care strategies and skills to consciously modify their self-management via awareness. Using the AT led to a range of well-being benefits through a sense of agency regarding their self-care. Applying the AT while lying in semi-supine was important to their lives. In a second study, a small-scale mixed- methods feasibility study, 15 women without prior experience and with babies under a year were given access to an online self-care package based on AT principles. Eleven women completed the study. Participants were able to draw on aspects of the AT which positively impacted their self-care. This benefitted their well-being and changed their postpartum experience. Prioritising time for themselves to practice the AT while lying down in semi- supine was challenging. Implications/conclusions These studies are the first (known) studies exploring how women use the AT in the postpartum. The AT has significance for self- management, self-care and prioritising maternal needs for rest and addressing tension issues. Further research into the AT as an approach to supporting perinatal well-being is warranted.

Department of Nursing & Midwifery, The University of Hull
Glover, Lesley; Jomeen, Julie; Wadephul, Franziska
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