The lived experience and coping strategies of woman who have had a still birth in Mulago Hospital, Uganda
Wanyenze, Wodeya Eva
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Background: A stillbirth often results in increased anxiety in subsequent pregnancies and feelings of guilt. In Uganda, an estimated 41,500 still births occur annually. Approximately 2,365 stillbirths were registered in Mulago hospital in 2012 with an average of 6 women having a still birth per day. Interventions to address the needs of women who have had Stillbirths are not considered as an urgent need in many societies but challenges associated are very real to families who experience a death. Aim: The main aim of the study was to describe the lived experience and explore the coping strategies of women who had had a Stillbirth in Mulago Hospital. Methods: The study employed a phenomenological hermeneutic design using Parse’s methodology of data collection. A phenomenological hermeneutic design was consistent with the ontology of Parse’s theory of human becoming. The study was carried among women who had had a stillbirth in Mulago hospital and were living in a 20km radius of Mulago hospital. A total of ten participants were interviewed; these were purposively selected from the postnatal unit. Data was analysed using Parse Research method of analysis where transcription, extraction synthesis and heuristic interpretation were done. Findings: The key perceptions that emerged from synthesis of women’s experiences of having a stillbirth include; confusion, broken aspirations, unjustified pain, dissociation, divine destiny, guilt, insensitiveness of health workers and family members, social injustice and denial. Women reacted to the death of their babies in various ways including crying, confusion, denial, guilt and loss of consciousness. The participants expressed feelings of broken aspirations following aspirations to nurture their infants. Furthermore, some women accepted the tragedy as a divine destiny. Coping strategies identified included; prayer after loss, looking after the older children to fill the void, self motivation and distraction activities. Participants acknowledged that some of the health workers were thoughtful, and resting in a separate room enabled them to share their loss with each other hence allowing them to come to terms with their loss Conclusion: The lived experiences following a stillbirth were broken aspirations distress and grounds to feelings of unjustified pain and. These women are insensitively and unfairly treated by both the health workers and family members. Positive and negative coping strategies were adopted enhancing either healing or predisposing bereaved women to depression.