A Journey from Science to Art: Valuing the voices of women in the exploration of traumatic childbirth and perinatal mental health.

Bagge, Sophie (2019) A Journey from Science to Art: Valuing the voices of women in the exploration of traumatic childbirth and perinatal mental health. Doctoral thesis, University of East Anglia.

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Informed by a feminist perspective, this thesis critically explores the multiple conceptual metanarratives of in childbirth. The research focuses on the lived experiences of traumatic childbirth and perinatal mental health problems from the perspective of Health Visitors and mothers to journey from the dominant, broad medical perspective to the unique, personal emotional understanding. This highlights the knowledge to be gained through listening and learning from the voices of women who are experts by experience in traumatic childbirth and perinatal mental health care.
The research was structured in three phases, a thematic analysis of focus groups with ten Health Visitors; a narrative analysis of mothers with self-defined traumatic birth stories; and a holistic representation of the stories and research experience. Using focus groups with Health Visitors, a thematic analysis constructed an over-arching theme of ‘Protecting an uncertain professional identity’, encompassing two sub-themes constituted of ‘the knowledge narrative’ exploring differing types of professional wisdom, and ‘Health Visitors role in perinatal mental health care.’ In the thematic analysis Health Visitors demonstrate some technical knowledge of PSTD following childbirth, but are under-confident in this knowledge. They outline a juxtaposition between not wanting to take on a role and responsibility in perinatal mental health care, but doing so in practice, creating anxiety. The importance of experiential and relational knowledge underpinning professional artistry is also highlighted.
A narrative analysis of twelve mothers’ traumatic childbirth stories utilizes van Gennep’s (1960) Rites of Passage theoretical framework to propose a period of acute liminality following traumatic childbirth experiences, with specific strategies and rituals enabling mothers to reintegrate and incorporate these experiences into their maternal self-identity. Secondly, narrative analysis explores the dilemmatic qualities of the traumatic childbirth narratives through the use of contextually-bound ‘cervix’ repertoires, discursive resources used to negotiate unique and personal experiences within the medical discourses which contextualise contemporary childbirth.
Illuminating and integrating the multiple people and positions invested in this project; the researched, the researcher, and the audience, this thesis concludes with an arts-based, novel representation/presentation of mothers’ traumatic childbirth narratives. This provides an alternative, holistic understanding through an emotional capture of the individual traumatic childbirth narratives, creating ‘empathetic engagement’ and reactive reflections. This demonstrates the unique value of aesthetic, visceral knowledge created through potent, evocative and essentially human connection.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Arts and Humanities > School of Philosophy (former - to 2014)
Depositing User: Nicola Veasy
Date Deposited: 14 Apr 2021 10:06
Last Modified: 14 Apr 2021 10:06
URI: https://ueaeprints.uea.ac.uk/id/eprint/79740


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