Honors College Thesis

 

The Role of Social Support on Mothers' Experiences with Periviable Births Public

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  • The periviable period is defined as birth between 20 and 26 weeks gestation—the limit of viability or the earliest age at which a premature neonate may be expected to live—during which clinical outcomes vary widely. The medical uncertainty with this pregnancy complication can cause a significant amount of physical and emotional distress for a mother and her family. The purpose of this study was to identify sources of social support and the roles they play in coping in order to help inform best practices for supporting parents of periviable neonates. Thematic analysis of de-identified interviews (n=9) using an open-ended, semi-structured, and consensus coding methodology enabled the identification of four salient themes that related to mothers’ experiences with navigating a periviable birth and the immediate postpartum experience: 1) misdiagnosis and miscommunication, 2) family support, 3) the tertiary care team, and 4) connections with others who have had periviable births. Of the four themes, misdiagnosis and miscommunication added significantly to patients’ fear and suffering, whereas the tertiary care team provided critical forms of social support that enabled families to better cope with the anxiety and unknowns of an extremely premature infant. Key Words: social support, mothers, periviable births, premature births
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