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I-POEMS Listening to the voices of women with a traumatic birth experience

Fontein-Kuipers, Yvonne; Koster, Diana; Romijn, Chantal; Sakko, Elvira; Stam, Catelijne; Steenhuis, Nienke; de Vries, Danielle; Willigen, Ilze van


Diana Koster

Chantal Romijn

Elvira Sakko

Catelijne Stam

Nienke Steenhuis

Danielle de Vries

Ilze van Willigen


This qualitative study, utilizing a feminist perspective, aimed to explore and articulate women's recall of emotional birth trauma experiences. The reason being that one in every five women has a negative recall of childbirth and one in every nine women has experienced birth as a traumatic event, with sometimes detrimental implications for women and their families. Thirty-six individual narrative interviews with Dutch-speaking women were conducted. Consent was obtained and interviews were audiotaped and fully transcribed. Sentences with the ‘voice of the ‘I’’ were extracted from the transcripts and were constructed into I-poems, showing four key themes: (1) The journey – unmet hopes and expectations of women during pregnancy, birth and thereafter; (2) The ‘I’ in the storm –
women’s notions of painful thoughts and memories; (3) The other – women’s responses to the interaction with healthcare professionals; (4) The environment – sensory awareness of the birthing
environment. The results described and showed the rawness and desolation of women's experiences reflected in their narratives of self, context and in relation to others, maternity care providers in specific. This study showed that acknowledging and listening to women’s voices are of merit to inform (student) midwives and other healthcare professionals who are involved with childbearing women so that the significance of this experience can be understood.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Apr 5, 2018
Publication Date 2018
Deposit Date Feb 21, 2022
Publicly Available Date Jun 27, 2023
Journal Journal of Psychology and Cognition
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 3
Issue 2
Pages 29-36
Keywords Traumatic birth experience, Midwifery, Narratives, I-poems
Public URL


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