Women's experiences of anxiety during pregnancy: an interpretative phenomenological analysis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Article number1026
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Psychiatry and Behavioural Sciences
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 14 Jun 2019
Objective: To qualitatively explore women’s experiences of anxiety during pregnancy.
Method: An interpretative phenomenological analysis approach was used to explore women’s lived experiences, using semi-structured interviews. Women were recruited through an antenatal clinic in the North West of England and through online forums. Seven women who identified as experiencing anxiety during their pregnancy were recruited. Women were in various trimesters of pregnancy, were not deemed to be high risk pregnancies and had no other psychiatric diagnoses.
Results: Four superordinate themes emerged: 1) Adjustment to pregnancy and motherhood and the experiences of anxiety, 2) Unfamiliarity, uncertainty and uncontrollability of pregnancy influences anxiety, 3) Personal and social expectations and pressures of pregnancy and motherhood and 4) Relying on healthcare systems – the good and bad.
Conclusions: Women described cognitive and emotional aspects of anxiety during pregnancy and how these impacted their wellbeing. Personal and social expectations of pregnancy and motherhood increased anxieties. Healthcare professionals have the potential to reduce anxiety by normalising and validating experiences and offering emotional support. Continuity of care is important for developing trusting relationships so that women feel confident to disclose anxiety. Developing information for women regarding the range of physical and emotional experiences which can occur during pregnancy might be helpful in normalising experiences and reducing uncertainty and anxiety.

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  • University of Manchester

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