Aims. To explore women’s experience of an emergency caesarean birth to gain a better understanding of their thoughts, and feelings throughout the birth process.
Background. Women who experience an emergency caesarean birth have an increased risk of psychological distress, however, little is known about the nature of this experience from their perspective. Given the sudden and unexpected nature of this type of birth and the increased risk of psychological distress for these women, it is important for nurses to understand the experience of women who have had an emergency caesarean birth.
Design. A qualitative descriptive study was conducted.
Method. Nine Canadian women who had healthy infants were interviewed a few days after having an emergency caesarean birth. Thematic analysis of interview data was conducted concurrent with the data collection.
Results. Seven themes were identified describing the women’s experience: (1) It was for the best, (2) I did not have control, (3) Everything was going to be okay, (4) I was so disappointed, (5) I was so scared, (6) I could not believe it and (7) I was excited.
Conclusion. A key finding was that women felt out of control during this event and used reassuring thoughts to minimise their distress.
Relevance to clinical practice. Nurses should aim to enhance women’s perception of control during the emergency caesarean birth, encourage open expression of their thoughts and feelings about the birth experience, and support the use of positive reframing to cope with this event.