South African mothers' perceptions and experiences of an unplanned caesarean section
Roux, Samantha Lynne
Van Rensburg, Esme
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New motherhood is characterised as a profound change, and research suggests that the psychological effects of childbirth can be significant and far-reaching for some women. This study explored women's perceptions and experiences of childbirth by unplanned Caesarean section. In-depth interviews with 10 Caucasian women (mean age=28; SD=1.97) explored their lived experiences of childbirth. Data were analyzed thematically. Phenomenological theory served as a broad framework for the structuring, organizing and categorizing of data. An unplanned Caesarean section was identified as a potentially traumatic experience. This was in relation to women's contact with medical personnel, as well as the physical, environmental, and emotional aspects of their unplanned Caesarean sections. A sense of loss of control was the most significant contributor to women's negative childbirth experiences. Feelings of failure and disappointment were primarily related to unmet expectations and a lack of preparedness. Negative experiences were mediated by attentive caregiving, inclusion in decision-making, and support from loved ones.