OBJECTIVE: To describe women's experience of pain during childbirth.
DESIGN: A qualitative study using a phenomenological approach. Data were collected by tape-recorded interviews.
SETTING: An Alternative Birth Care Centre at a university hospital in Sweden in 1995.
PARTICIPANTS: Nine women, four primiparous and five multiparous who were two to four days post delivery.
KEY FINDINGS: Four themes were identified in the meanings of experience: (1) pain is hard to describe and is contradictory; (2) trust in oneself and one's body; (3) trust in the midwife and husband; and (4) transition to motherhood. The essential structure of the studied phenomenon was described as 'being one's body', which includes a non-objectifying view of the body, a presence in the delivery process, and a meaning connected to the transition to motherhood.
IMPLICATIONS FOR PRACTICE: The women felt that pain was a natural part of the delivery process, and that the strength and power to cope with it came from within the women. A conclusion is that midwives can help birthing women to find their own ability to cope, and should interfere only if the woman asks or if the natural process is disturbed, e.g. by complications. The experience of pain during childbirth, together with the experience of strength during childbirth, gives meaning to the transition to motherhood.
1998. Vol. 14, no 2, 105-110 p.