The experience of antenatal hospitalization among high-risk pregnant women

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Tabitha D. Toney (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
Lynne Lewallen

Abstract: Pregnancy is a multi-dimensional experience that affects a woman physically, psychologically, and socially, in which hopes and expectations for the pregnancy and becoming a mother are developed. However, when women experience a high-risk pregnancy, the hopes of a rewarding experience are shattered. These women could have difficulty with the mothering role after birth and their mental health or parenting ability could be impacted. If there are major discrepancies between maternal expectations and actual experiences, taking on the maternal role could be negatively impacted (Rubin, 1984). The purpose of the study was to describe the high-risk pregnant woman’s experience of antepartum hospitalization. Specific aims for the study were to discover how the hospitalized high-risk pregnant woman felt about her unborn baby and to describe how the hospitalized high-risk pregnant woman cognitively constructed her transition to becoming a mother. The study was conducted using a hermeneutic, phenomenological approach. Rubin’s (1984) work on maternal identity was used to guide the study. Additionally, the philosophy of Merleau-Ponty (1945/2012) was used to understand the unique lived experiences of hospitalized high-risk pregnant women. Thirteen hospitalized, high-risk pregnant women, with an average age of 27.5 years (range: 20-38), were interviewed for the study. The average number of weeks gestation of the participants was 28.19 (range: 22 6/7-33 5/7 weeks gestation). Thematic analysis of high-risk pregnant women’s hospital experiences yielded the overarching theme, Doing Whatever It Takes, and four additional themes: Flooding Emotions from Hospitalization, Struggling with Uncertainty and Changing Expectations, Dealing with Hospitalization, and Anticipating Motherhood. Doing Whatever It Takes was expressed as a prominent way of dealing with the hospitalization and the unanticipated changes in their pregnancies, with many expressing the will to fight for their babies no matter the difficulties they faced. The initial response to the hospitalization caused a wide range of negative emotions, with some women grieving the loss of the idealized pregnancy, while others grieved missing out on the events of pregnancy (e.g., baby showers and preparing the nursery). Despite these difficulties, all women considered the hospital as a safe place for them, knowing they and their babies were close to care, if needed. Various ways of Dealing with the Hospitalization included holding on to hope, keeping a positive attitude, relying upon God, and feeling supported. Overall, most women expressed excitement for their babies and becoming a mother, with some already seeing themselves as mothers. Many women described their babies in the present tense and expressed their thoughts of what their babies would be like in the future (e.g., size and personality). However, not all women saw themselves as mothers “until the baby was born” or “hoping it would develop (being mother) after the baby was born.” Some women described the relationship with their babies as close already, while a few stated they did not have a relationship with the baby yet, but expected it to form once the baby arrived. Three new findings emerged from this study. First, the developing relationship between a mother and baby was described as growing stronger as the pregnancy continued. Second, the use of technology to stay connected to family and friends during hospitalization was reported as being helpful. Finally, previous studies reported deleterious physical effects of bed rest; whereas in this study, women described emotional effects, rather than physical effects.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2019
Experience, High-risk pregnancy, Hospitalization
Pregnancy $x Complications
Hospitals $x Admission and discharge

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