"You stop thinking about yourself as a woman". An interpretive phenomenological study of the meaning of sexuality for Icelandic women during pregnancy and after birth.
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Citation"You stop thinking about yourself as a woman". An interpretive phenomenological study of the meaning of sexuality for Icelandic women during pregnancy and after birth. 2018, 62:14-19 Midwifery
AbstractThere exists considerable evidence about reduced sexual desire and sexual disorders during pregnancy and after giving birth. More in-depth qualitative evidence is needed. The purpose of this study was to find out how Icelandic women experienced their sexuality during pregnancy and after giving birth.
An interpretive phenomenological study based on individual interviews with eight women was carried out at two time points, six and 12 months after giving birth, giving a total of 16 interviews. Women who had given birth at Landspitali - The National University Hospital of Iceland were selected for the study through purposeful sampling. The interviews were audio-recorded and transcribed verbatim. The text was analysed by using interpretive phenomenology.
Changes during pregnancy and the post-partum period affected how the women perceived themselves as sexual beings. They expressed a great need for physical and emotional intimacy during this time. Their needs for physical intimacy did not necessarily include the desire for sexual intercourse. How well their needs were met by their partner depended apparently on how intimate their relationship was. The relationship either tilted towards balance or imbalance, more towards balance when intimacy needs were taken care of. Communication, being emotionally close to the partner, and how the partner showed consideration played a great role in their sexual relationship.
During these transitional times women felt differently as sexual beings, they had great need for emotional and physical intimacy, and needed to share their thoughts, to be close and to be appreciated.
Health care professionals, especially midwives and nurses, could contribute to the balance in the relationship through the provision of evidence-based information about normal changes in sexual behaviour during the childbearing process and by discussing intimacy issues. The partner may need this information as much as the woman.
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