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Hidden voices: Saudi Women's experiences of postpartum and their understandings of how to regain their health.

Haitham, Areej Abdulghani 2015. Hidden voices: Saudi Women's experiences of postpartum and their understandings of how to regain their health. PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.
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The aim of this study is to explore Saudi women’s experience of being healthy during the postpartum period (also called Nifas in Arabic). Little attention has been given to women’s experience of health during the postpartum period; however, it is essential to understand their experiences and understandings of health during this time if we are to develop healthcare programmes that meet their needs and improve outcomes during postpartum period healthcare. Little attention is given to postpartum women’s health in Saudi Arabia, and a postpartum woman with a normal vaginal childbirth is usually discharged from a maternity hospital 24-48 hours after the childbirth. Then, for the next 40 days, she is secluded within the home, cared for by others (usually her mother) and will only be seen by healthcare services (the obstetrician) a month after childbirth to receive their postpartum check-up. This sole consultation is limited to examining her episiotomy, a routine procedure for the majority of Saudi women. The aim of this study is to find out about women’s health practices during this hidden but important time for women’s health- the 40 days following child birth that are spent in the home. This is an interpretive phenomenological study that examines online forum discussions of Saudi Arabian women sharing experiences and seeking advice on their health during the postpartum period (28 threads), as well as a total of 12 in-depth, semi-structured interviews with women (n=7) and their carers (n=5) within their 40 days postpartum. Thematic analysis was used. The women described their experience of being healthy during the postpartum period. They believed that, during this time, women become vulnerable and open to certain illness, but they also perceived this period as an opportunity to achieve their optimal health and attractiveness. Some of the common themes that emerged were the challenges of confinement, achieving health, everyday threats and constraints, warnings and consequences, striving for normality, and becoming better than normal. However, key themes identified during interviews with postpartum women also included trust in various sources of knowledge, which included their carers, female relatives, friends, and online postpartum health discussions. The study also uncovered several strategies women used to follow health advice that were often hidden from their healthcare practitioners. In contrast, the findings from the online community discussions demonstrate that this was a forum where women could discuss issues which they did not feel able to discuss during interviews and in front of carers. These issues included the difficulties of judging expertise and advice, emotional and psychological health, husbands, and sexual activity. The study’s findings can be used to explain the postpartum women’s perception of health to healthcare providers, and the study can assist in understanding some of these women’s strategies to be healthy, including commonly followed traditional health practices. It highlights their difficulties in making sense of the large amount of traditional advice they are faced with, which covers every aspect of daily life during this period, from hygiene and food to preventing and healing episiotomies, but which also ignores key issues for these women (mental and sexual health). Finally, this study highlights Saudi women’s need for support and improved communication between these women and clinical services during the postpartum period; the frankness of the online discussions indicates that a reliable and confidential online health education forum might offer an effective way of providing this information and support.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Date Type: Completion
Status: Unpublished
Schools: Healthcare Sciences
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
R Medicine > RT Nursing
Uncontrolled Keywords: Postpartum health, Saudi women, Postpartum experience, Health beliefs, Health practices
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 30 March 2016
Last Modified: 24 Jan 2022 12:20

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