Original Research

The psychosomatic experiences of women who had intrauterine foetal death in rural South Africa

Martha Kharivhe, Mary Maluleke, Thingahangwi Masutha, Takalani Thabathe, Duppy Manyuma, Ndivhaleni Lavhelani, Muofheni Nemathaga, Muvhango Ramovha, Mutshinyalo Netshikweta, Mulatedzi Mulaudzi
Curationis | Vol 46, No 1 | a2279 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/curationis.v46i1.2279 | © 2023 Martha Kharivhe, Mary Maluleke, Thingahangwi Masutha, Takalani Thabathe, Duppy Manyuma, Ndivhaleni Lavhelani, Muofheni Nemathaga, Muvhango Ramovha, Mutshinyalo Netshikweta, Mulatedzi Mulaudzi | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 30 September 2021 | Published: 05 December 2023

About the author(s)

Martha Kharivhe, Department of Advance Nursing, Faculty of Health, University of Venda, Thohoyandou, South Africa
Mary Maluleke, Department of Advance Nursing, Faculty of Health, University of Venda, Thohoyandou, South Africa
Thingahangwi Masutha, Department of Advance Nursing, Faculty of Health, University of Venda, Thohoyandou, South Africa
Takalani Thabathe, Department of Advance Nursing, Faculty of Health, University of Venda, Thohoyandou, South Africa
Duppy Manyuma, Department of Advance Nursing, Faculty of Health, University of Venda, Thohoyandou, South Africa
Ndivhaleni Lavhelani, Department of Advance Nursing, Faculty of Health, University of Venda, Thohoyandou, South Africa
Muofheni Nemathaga, Department of Advance Nursing, Faculty of Health, University of Venda, Thohoyandou, South Africa
Muvhango Ramovha, Department of Advance Nursing, Faculty of Health, University of Venda, Thohoyandou, South Africa
Mutshinyalo Netshikweta, Department of Advance Nursing, Faculty of Health, University of Venda, Thohoyandou, South Africa
Mulatedzi Mulaudzi, Department of Advance Nursing, Faculty of Health, University of Venda, Thohoyandou, South Africa

Abstract

Background: Intrauterine foetal death (IUFD) is a traumatic event leading to substantial grief reactions with a variety of experiences in an expectant woman. After delivery, these experiences have shown to impact the mother’s psychological well-being, where she experiences post-traumatic stress, sadness, anxiety and depression. The psychosomatic experiences before labour commenced are not known.

Objectives: This study explored the psychosomatic (mind–body connection) experiences of women who had an IUFD before labour commenced in rural areas of Limpopo province, South Africa.

Method: A qualitative approach with an explorative descriptive design was carried out among all 10 consented participants who were selected using a purposive sampling technique. The sample consisted of women who delivered an IUFD as reflected by the hospital register from the selected hospitals. Data were collected at the participants’ homes through in-depth individual interviews guided by one open-ended central question as follows, ‘Please share with me your experiences of IUFD before you went into labour’, and analysed using Tesch’s open coding method.

Results: Two themes reflecting the psychosomatic (mind–body connection) experiences of women who had an IUFD emerged from the analysis. The themes are danger alerts and emotional responses.

Conclusion: This qualitative study revealed that women could relate a lack of or decreased foetal movement as the danger alert or warning sign that the baby was in danger before labour commenced. Upon noticing that something was wrong with the baby, a message was sent to the women’s minds, which equally affected and activated their emotional dimensions. An investigation regarding the kind of support needed by women after being informed of an IUFD is recommended.


Keywords

experiences; intrauterine foetal death; labour; mind–body; women

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