A delivery room within a hospital setting is the most common place for women to give birth in Western countries today. Most women have positive experiences of giving birth. However, for some women, childbirth is an experience similar to their worst imaginable nightmare, and affects them in such a way that they become filled with fear of forthcoming births. Research shows that main factors for experiencing birth as negative are often related to the care. Therefore, it is important to critically evaluate care given to those women during childbirth.
The aim of this new publication from the Childbirth Research Group was to obtain a deeper understanding of the women’s negative experiences in the delivery room. The study is based on original data from three qualitative studies on 21 Swedish women’s experiences of fear of childbirth.
Focus for the hermeneutic analysis was on the women’s descriptions of their previous negative birth experiences. The concepts of “surveillance”, as described by Foucault, and “suffering,” as described by Eriksson were used to attain a profounder understanding of the women’s experiences.
For these women, the delivery room was not a safe place. On the contrary, it was a place creating fear of childbirth. The interpretation showed that the women were objects of surveillance, and they endured suffering related to the care during childbirth. The conclusions were that to avoid negative birth experiences and future fear, women must be offered not only medical, but also emotional and existential safety in the delivery room.
Foucault M. Övervakning och straff. (Discipline and punish). 4th ed. Lund: Arkiv Förlag; 2003.
Eriksson K. Understanding the world of the patient, the suffering human being: the new clinical paradigm from nursing to caring. Adv Pract Nurs Q 1997;3:8–13.