Academic journal article International Journal of Child Health and Human Development

The Traumatic Experience of Giving Birth Prematurely to a Very-Low-Weight Baby

Academic journal article International Journal of Child Health and Human Development

The Traumatic Experience of Giving Birth Prematurely to a Very-Low-Weight Baby

Article excerpt

When medical technology and postpartum care first made it possible to keep very-low-birth-weight (VLBW) premature babies alive, a fair body of research has been carried out on the mothers of these babies. Most of the studies are quantitative examinations of various manifestations of the mothers' distress and/or of variables that ameliorate or exacerbate it. The result is that it is impossible to know how much the mothers' distress is rooted in the premature delivery and how much it is rooted in the infant's condition.

Method: The study presented is a qualitative examination of 30 mothers of VLBW babies. We collected the data by means of face-to-face, in-depth, semi-structured interviews between 3-9 weeks after the delivery, when the experience of the delivery is still in the forefront of the mothers' recollections. The interviewees participated voluntarily. All the interviews were tape-recorded and transcribed.

Findings: Virtually all the women described the premature delivery as a traumatic event. Most of the women asked themselves why they gave birth prematurely, and most of them saw the premature birth as an untoward event. About two thirds of them sought to explain it by attributing blame, either to themselves or someone else. In contrast, about a third of the interviewees viewed the premature delivery as something that saved their child's life and credited themselves, their bodies, or God with having had the sense to get to the hospital and rescue the baby from otherwise certain death. …

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