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Improving women’s experiences of perineal suturing: A pragmatic qualitative analysis of what is helpful and harmful

Published:February 22, 2022DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.wombi.2022.02.008

      Abstract

      Background

      Perineal trauma requiring suturing is increasing, along with the associated physiological and psychological morbidities for women. Provider training appears to focus more on technical aspects rather than respectful, relational care for women. Studies exploring women’s experiences have identified that how women are cared for can significantly impact upon overall experiences.

      Aim

      To identify areas of improvement to the perineal suturing process and provide robust recommendations for urgent change by investigating what aspects are most traumatic to women and which are most supportive.

      Methods

      A pragmatic qualitative analysis of data generated from 15 in-depth interviews with women who were sutured following birth.

      Findings

      Regardless of tear severity, what was identified as helpful included anything that made the process better by increasing feelings of trust and reassurance, and providing women with a sense of being seen and heard. Harmful experiences were identified as those that worsened the experience, by increasing feelings of fear and vulnerability and leaving women with a sense of being disregarded or disrespected.

      Conclusion

      The study confirmed that how the suturing process is conducted can have a significant detrimental impact upon women’s short- and longer-term physical and psychological well-being.

      Implications for practice

      An improved experience for women is most likely with kind professionals who explain the process as it goes along, check-in regularly and validate how the women feel. Women prefer to be sutured by a known professional, only if this provider is also kind and respectful.

      Keywords

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