Midwives' descriptions of the postnatal experiences of women who use illicit substances: A descriptive study
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Objectives. To describe midwives’ perceptions of the early mothering experiences of 20 Australian illicit-drug-using mothers. Design. A qualitative retrospective study using an explorative descriptive design. Twenty client records, completed by research midwives over 6 months (with follow-up visits at 12 and 18 months), formed the data set. Thematic analysis and the techniques associated with constant comparison were used to analyse the data. Setting. Perth, Western Australia. Participants. Twenty postpartum women with a history of using illicit drugs. Findings. Seven major themes were identified that described how childbearing women with drug problems strive to be ‘normal mums’ although living on the fringe of society. The first three major themes were labelled; Baby as the priority; Hating the body: and Life sucks. Theme four represents the level of family and community support available, which had the potential to facilitate and/or hinder the experience. The analysis suggested that women who had good support, particularly at 4 months postpartum and beyond, were more likely to move towards the fifth theme Hanging in there: striving to be a normal mum. Women with minimal support, living in hostile and often abusive environments, gravitated towards the theme of Beyond caring with the eventual consequence being chaos and a return to heavy drug use, labelled Emotional fibrillation.
The link to the journal’s home page is: http://www.elsevier.com/wps/find/journaldescription.cws_home/623060/description#description. Copyright © 2009 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved
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