Interpersonal trauma, substance misuse and pregnancy - A phenomenological exploration of pregnant women and midwives in Scotland

First published: 10 May 2019 | Last updated: 20 May 2019

Aims: To chronologically map out pregnant women’s past abuse experiences and past substance use to illustrate common pathways through which these occur and explore possible mechanisms underlying these.  To explore pregnant women’s experiences of their journey to motherhood.  To explore midwives experiences and perceptions of supporting this client group.

Methods: To date, four eligible pregnant women supported by midwifery services in Scotland have been recruited.  Data is collected using a life history calendar (LHC), followed by an in-depth, semi-structured interview.  Six eligible Midwives have been recruited.   In depth, semi-structured interviews were carried out in order to gain insight into their experiences and perceptions of supporting this client group.

Individual LHC are converted into chronological timelines that map the sequencing of negative life events and substance use/misuse.  Transcribed interviews are analysed using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis.

Results: Results are preliminary.  Key themes identified for pregnant participants are: “Psychological trauma”, ‘Seeking oblivion’, “Nothing else matters” and “Recovery”. Key themes identified for midwifery participants are: “They’re women just like you and me”, “Managing the unmanageable”, “I do worry” and “The legacy of trauma”.


PhD supervision team – Professor Thanos Karatzias, Professor Michael Brown and Dr Catherine Mahoney, School of Nursing, Midwifery and Social Care, Edinburgh Napier University


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Mrs Naomi Waddell