Purpose: To examine the lived experience of pregnancy and childbirth in women with spinal cord injury (SCI).
Method: Qualitative design. Eight women participated in semi-structured interviews, which were digitally recorded and transcribed verbatim. Individual and common themes were explored using interpretative phenomenological analysis.
Results: Five main themes of "preparing for childbirth," "childbirth as a pleasurable event," "childbirth as a unique experience for women with SCI," "the importance of support" and "childbirth as a team effort with varied degrees of controllability" emerged from the analyses. Overall, the women interviewed reported that their experience was positive and one which they would recommend to other women with SCI. Participants felt that SCI made a difference to their experience in terms of the clinical care that they received, their freedom of choice and their environment; highlighting the importance of support, empowerment and person centred care during childbirth.
Conclusions: Emerging themes suggested the need for services and professionals to adopt a biopsychosocial framework in which to care for women with SCI during childbirth and to ensure that the individual's needs and wishes are considered. Future research may explore the benefits of mindfulness techniques for women in labour.