The meaning of labor, birth, and the immediate postpartum period for women who have experienced intimate partner violence in the perinatal period
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In the last 25 years, great strides have been made both in and out of nursing concerning the pervasive problem of intimate partner violence (IPV) against women. Nurses have recognized that pregnancy does not make a woman immune to IPV, and that outcomes for mothers and their infants who encounter IPV in the perinatal period can be catastrophic. However, knowledge about pregnancy, labor and birth, and postpartum for the general population of “women” has guided the care of all women. The voices of women who have been abused have not informed intrapartum and postpartum nursing practice. The purpose of this feminist interpretive study was to discover the meaning of labor, birth, and the immediate postpartum period to women who experienced perinatal IPV. Eleven women participated in loosely structured face-to-face interviews, leading to stories of 25 pregnancies that occurred within the context of IPV. Texts were interpreted guided by hermeneutic phenomenology (Gadamer 1960/1989;1976) and van Manen’s (1990) six research activities. A feminist lens was applied to the texts throughout the interpretive process. Methodological rigor was achieved through trustworthiness and authenticity criteria adapted from the work of Guba and Lincoln (1989) by Erlandson, Harris, Skipper, and Allen (1993). From the texts, four patterns were identified: Making It Through, Issues ofControl, If I Could Tell Nurses, and Through a Feminist Lens. Themes and subthemes were organized under these patterns. Considered within the context of today’s world, the patterns, themes and subthemes were used to develop recommendations to improve nursing and society. Recommendations are offered for nursing research, education, practice, and social activism.