Understanding the Childbirth Experiences of Childhood Sexual Abuse Survivors: A Phenomenological Study


Caitlin Mathewson, RN, BScN, MN, Dr. Sherry Espin, RN, PhD, Ryan Van Lieshout, MD, PhD, FRCP(C), Sharon Dore, RN, PhD and Patricia McNiven, RM, BSc, MSc, PhD



This study describes the childbirth experiences of survivors of childhood sexual abuse, using an interpretative phenomenological approach. Data collection involved in-depth, semistructured interviews of four women who gave birth to a baby within the last 5 years. Using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis, three superordinate themes emerged: control, anxiety, and detachment. This contributes to the current body of research by extending knowledge on what it means to experience childbirth for survivors of childhood sexual abuse, told by the woman herself. These findings are especially important in understanding what is required in providing safe, sensitive care for all childbearing women and has important implications for practice, education, and further research.


childbirth, childhood sexual abuse, pregnancy, sexual abuse survivor


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