A systematic review regarding the emotional/psychological experiences of medically complicated pregnancies
Isaacs, Nazeema Zainura
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Over time, the ‘normal’ experience of pregnancy transitioned to the hospital setting, leading to a discourse steeped in the notions of risks and complications. Risks and complications refer to health problems expectant women may experience, causing them to have a high-risk pregnancy. High-risk pregnancy refers to a pregnancy that negatively affects the health of the mother, the baby, or both, and evoking a range of emotional and psychological experiences. Research on high-risk pregnancy is predominantly found in the medical arena. Such research usually concerns the disease, while women’s emotional/psychological experiences are not sufficiently documented. For this reason, the objectives of this study was to explore the emotional and psychological experiences of women in the reviewed articles throughout their high-risk pregnancies, and identify the medical conditions and complications in the same reviewed articles. Ethics clearance was obtained from the senate research committee at UWC. The systematic review examined qualitative studies, including the qualitative components of mixed method studies published between January 2006 and June 2017. The databases that were searched are EbscoHost, JSTOR, Sage Journals Online, ScienceDirect, SpringerLink, Sabinet, Scopus, Emerald eJournals Premier, Pubmed, as well as Taylor and Francis Open Access eJournals. The study evaluated the literature found on these databases for methodological quality by using three stages of review (i.e. abstract reading, title reading, and full-text reading) and applying a meta-synthesis to the current evidence on the research topic. The findings provide empirical evidence based on sound research that medical conditions and complications (i.e. HELLP syndrome, thrombophilia, gestational diabetes, maternal near-miss syndrome, foetal abnormality, preterm birth, hypertension, and uterine rupture) are associated with women’s emotional and psychological experiences (i.e. fear, shock, feeling frightened, sadness, worry, alienation, frustration, grief, guilt, anger, ambivalence, despair, upset, loneliness and isolation, anxiety, depression, and PTSD) throughout their high-risk pregnancies. As a result of this, survivors of severe pregnancy complications have subsequent psychological and emotional challenges. It is therefore recommended that future researchers consider including quantitative studies in a systematic review on the same topic.