Women's experience of pregnancy when post-birth surgery is indicated : a phenomenological study

Spencer, Amanda

Clinical psychology
November 2013

Thesis or dissertation

© 2013 Amanda Spencer. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the written permission of the copyright holder.

Background: Pregnant women who are told their unborn babies require postnatal surgery following the 20 week scan are likely to be distressed. There is a small body of research in this area that suggests pregnancy experience is fundamentally changed and that pregnancy expectations may play a part in that process but it is unclear how women come to terms with their news. Objectives: This study aimed to gain a detailed understanding of what pregnant women experienced when faced with this news by applying Lazarus and Folkman's (1984) transactional model of stress and coping (TMSC) and expectancy theory against a backdrop of disruptions to the normal stages of pregnancy as identified by Raphael-Leff (2005).

Method: Seven in-depth interviews were conducted with pregnant women whose unborn babies had been diagnosed with a surgical nonlethal structural abnormality following the 20 week anomaly scan.

Results: Pregnant women's experiences had four super-ordinate themes: 'living with a changed pregnancy’, which represented living with the unknown and pre and post news pregnancy expectations; ‘an emotional journey’, which represented post news emotions experienced and concerns about the future; ‘coping’ which represented how women mediated their distress; ‘relationships with self, their baby and others’ which involved questioning ideas around motherhood and their baby's identity and how others influenced pregnancy experience.

Discussion: Themes were discussed in relation to the TMSC and expectancy theory and explored emotions and appraisals and the interplay an uncertain prognosis had on pregnancy expectations alongside interactional influences from the environment.

Department of Clinical Psychology and Psychological Therapies, The University of Hull
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