Temporal Themes in Periviable Birth: A Qualitative Analysis of Patient Experiences
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Objective Periviable birth accounts for a very small percentage of preterm deliveries but a large proportion of perinatal and neonatal morbidity. Understanding parental experiences during and after periviable deliveries may help healthcare providers determine how to best support women during these medically complex, emotionally charged clinical encounters. Methods This is a qualitative study with a voluntary sample of women who delivered between 22 and 25 weeks gestation at an academic medical center from 2014 to 2016. Women’s narratives of each periviable birth experience were transcribed and analyzed using consensus coding and a grounded theory approach to identify key themes that describe parental experiences. Results A total of 10 women were interviewed. Four emergent temporal themes: (1) the time preceding admission: feeling dismissed; (2) transfer or admission to a tertiary care center: anxiety and doubt; (3) the birth itself: fear of the outcome; and (4) the postpartum period: reflection and communication. Conclusions for practice Women that experience a periviable birth may benefit from continuous support and clear communication. Overall, care for these patients should be expanded to address the specific psychosocial needs identified during the distinctive, periviable temporal themes that emerged during interviews. Continuous longitudinal support in the form of a designated person or team should be provided to women experiencing a potential periviable birth in order to help mitigate the fear and anxiety associated with these complex birth experiences.
KeywordsCommunication Periviable birth Parental experiences Temporal themes
We would like to thank the women who so generously shared their stories with us even in a time of great familial and personal crisis.
Compliance with Ethical Standards
Conflict of interest
The authors report no conflict of interest or financial support. This study was approved by the Institutional Review Board prior to initiation.
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