A concept analysis of women's vulnerability during pregnancy, birth and the postnatal period.

Journal of advanced nursing

PubMedID: 27255232

Briscoe L, Lavender T, McGowan L. A concept analysis of women's vulnerability during pregnancy, birth and the postnatal period. J Adv Nurs. 2016;.
AIM
To report an analysis of the concept of vulnerability associated with pregnancy, birth and the postnatal period.

BACKGROUND
The concept of vulnerability during childbirth is complex and the term, 'to be vulnerable' frequently attains a vague application. Analysis about vulnerability is needed to guide policy, practice, education and research. Clarity around the concept has the potential to improve outcomes for women.

DESIGN
Concept analysis.

DATA SOURCES
Searches were conducted in CINAHL, EMBASE, PubMed, Psychinfo, MEDLINE, MIDIRS and ASSIA and limited to between January 2000 - June 2014. Data were collected over 12 months during 2014.

METHODS
This concept analysis drew on Morse's qualitative methods.

RESULTS
Vulnerability during pregnancy, birth and the postnatal period can be defined by three main attributes: (a) Threat; (b) Barrier; and (c) Repair. Key attributes have the potential to influence outcome for women. Inseparable sub-attributes such as mother and baby attachment, the woman's free will and choice added a level of complexity about the concept.

CONCLUSION
This concept analysis has clarified how the term vulnerability is currently understood and used in relation to pregnancy, birth and the postnatal period. Vulnerability should be viewed as a complex phenomenon rather than a singular concept. A 'vulnerability journey plan' has the potential to identify how reparative interventions may develop the woman's capacity for resilience and influence the degree of vulnerability experienced. Methodology based around complex theory should be explored in future work about vulnerability.