Thomson, Gill Margaret and Downe, Soo
Changing the future to change the past: women’s experiences of a positive birth following a traumatic birth experience.
Journal of Reproductive and Infant Psychology, 28
This paper reports on how women prepared for, experienced, and internalised a positive birth following a traumatic birth event. An interpretive phenomenological approach was adopted. Analysis was based on Gadamerian philosophical hermeneutics. Fourteen women were recruited through purposive sampling methods. Unstructured in-depth interviews were conducted across two recruitment phases. The constitutive theme was ‘changing the future to change the past’. The birth stories illustrated how women changed their previous negative childbearing narratives through preparing for and experiencing a positive, joyful birth. Four key themes have been presented: ‘Resolving the past and preparing for the unknown’,‘Being connected', 'Being redeemed’ and ‘Being transformed’. Participants included two women who ended their childbearing experiences with a traumatic birth. Exploration of differences between women who ended their childbearing experiences on trauma or joy has been offered to further develop a theory of redemption. The findings offer important insights into how women who have experienced birth trauma may be supported during a future pregnancy. Preparing women for uncertainty and providing opportunities for them to build trust in themselves and their caregivers may provide a bridge a to 'redemptive’experience. Women who do not experience a subsequent positive birth may need more specialised support.