Title. Women’s experiences of becoming a mother after prolonged labour.
Aim. This paper is a report of a study to explore women’s experiences of becoming a mother after prolonged labour.
Background. The negativity associated with a complicated labour such as prolonged labour can lead to a struggle to become a healthy mother and could restrict the process of becoming a mother.
Methods. Interviews were conducted in 2004 with 10 mothers who had been through a prolonged labour with assisted vaginal or caesarean delivery 1–3 months previously. Thematic content analysis was used.
Findings. Three themes were formulated, describing women’s experiences as fumbling in the dark, struggling for motherhood and achieving confidence in being a mother. The difficulties and suffering involved in becoming a mother after a prolonged labour were interpreted to be like ‘fumbling in the dark’. Women experienced bodily fatigue, accompanied by feelings of illness and detachment from the child. Having the child when in this condition entailed a struggle to become a mother. In spite of these experiences and the desire to achieve confidence in being a mother, the reassurance of these women regarding their capacity for motherhood was crucial: it was central to their happiness as mothers, encouraged interaction and relationship with the child, and contributed to their adaptation to motherhood.
Conclusion. Women experiencing prolonged labour may be comparable with the experience of and recovery from illness, which could contribute to difficulties transitioning to motherhood and limit a woman’s ability to be emotionally available for the child.