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The social conception of space of birth narrated by women with negative and traumatic birth experiences

Kuipers, Yvonne J.; Thomson, Gill; Goberna-Tricas, Josefina; Zurera, Alba; Hresanová, Ema; Temesgenová, Natálie; Waldner, Irmgard; Leinweber, Julia


Gill Thomson

Josefina Goberna-Tricas

Alba Zurera

Ema Hresanová

Natálie Temesgenová

Irmgard Waldner

Julia Leinweber


Many women experience giving birth as a negative or even as a traumatic event. Birth space and its occupants are fundamentally interconnected with negative and traumatic experiences, highlighting the importance of the social space of birth.

To explore experiences of women who have had a negative or traumatic birth to identify the value, sense and meaning they assign to the social space of birth.

A feminist standpoint theory guided the research. Secondary discourse analysis of 51 qualitative data sets/transcripts from Dutch and Czech Republic postpartum women and 551 free-text responses of the Babies Born Better survey from women in the United Kingdom, Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Austria, Spain, and the Czech Republic.

Three themes and associated sub-themes emerged: 1. The institutional dimension of social space related to staff-imposed boundaries, rules and regulations surrounding childbirth, and a clinical atmosphere. 2. The relational dimension of social space related to negative women-healthcare provider interactions and relationships , including notions of dominance, power, authority, and control. 3. The personal dimension of social space related to how women internalised and were affected by the negative social dimensions including feelings of faith misplaced, feeling disconnected and disembodied, and scenes of horror.

The findings suggest that improving the quality of the social space of birth may promote better birth experiences for women. The institutional, relational, and personal dimensions of the social space of birth are key in the planning, organisation, and provision of maternity care.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Apr 18, 2022
Online Publication Date May 2, 2022
Publication Date 2023-02
Deposit Date May 8, 2022
Publicly Available Date May 3, 2024
Journal Women and Birth
Print ISSN 1871-5192
Electronic ISSN 1878-1799
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 36
Issue 1
Pages e78-e85
Keywords Social space, Space perception, Social environment, Place of birth, Psychological trauma, Traumatic birth experience, Discourse analysis
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