Nyman, Viola, Downe, Soo and Berg, Marie
Waiting for permission to enter the labour ward world: First time parents’ experiences of the first encounter on a labour ward.
Sexual & Reproductive Healthcare, 2
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Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.srhc.2011.05.004
Background: For women and their partners, the first meeting with professional staff on the labour ward is
important. This initial encounter is a short but sensitive meeting. It may be particularly crucial for first
time parents, most of whom have no prior experience of the birth environment. The objective of this
study was to explore the meaning of first time mothers’ and their partners’ first encounter with midwives
and other maternity care staff when they arrive on a hospital labour ward.
Method: A hermeneutic, reflective lifeworld research approach was chosen to identify patterns of meanings,
comprehension and explanations. Participants from Western Sweden were interviewed in the postnatal
period; 37 individually, and 28 in focus groups.
Results: Four themes were identified: ‘timing it right ’, ‘waiting to be informed’, ‘being in an inferior position’,
and ‘facing reality with a mosaic of emotions’. The final interpretation of the phenomenon is captured
as ‘waiting for permission to enter the labour ward world’.
Conclusion: The findings demonstrate the parents’ efforts trying to determine the appropriateness of arrival
to the labour ward. An asymmetric power relationship was expressed in the obedient acceptance of
the waiting for attention in an unfamiliar situation. These findings suggest that the labour ward entry
process is not parent centred. As entry to the labour ward sets the tone for the rest of the birth, this period
in the labour process needs more attention in future research and practice from the maternity care professionals
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