Josephine Namujju is a senior nursing officer and a holder of a Bachelor’s degree in Nursing and a Post Graduate Diploma in Public Administration.  Josephine has completed a master’s program in Midwifery and Women’s Health from Makerere University and now awaits graduation.

Josephine has offered clinical services in the area of maternal and child health care and managerial roles for over 20 years in Mulago National Referral Hospital and various District local governments.  She has developed her career from Nursing officer (midwifery) to Senior Nursing Officer since 2010 and now acting Assistant District health officer, Mbale district.

Dissertation Title: childbirth experiences and the derived meaning among postnatal mothers in Mbale Regional Referral Hospital, Mbale District.

Introduction: The proportion of women who have had negative childbirth experiences is 7- 16 % according to studies done in Sweden and Netherlands and might be higher in developing countries Uganda inclusive. Negative childbirth experiences cause undesirable effects such as failure to breastfeed, impaired relationship of the mother with the baby and psychological strains like mood disorders.

Objectives: In this study, the childbirth experiences and the meaning mothers attribute to their childbirth experiences were explored among postnatal mothers in Mbale Regional Referral Hospital.

Methods: A phenomenological qualitative study was done on mothers within 2 months after delivery. Data was collected by in depth interviews and focus group discussions, participants purposively selected and data were thematically analyzed.

Findings: Seven themes emerged: Childbirth pains: severity, duration and patterns were major concerns reported. Social orientation to labour pains provided encouragement. Service providers’ attitudes and care: caring, attention , listening to mothers, psychological support, and management of complications by service providers were noted positive while poor attention, non- listening, slapping, quarreling, roughness, poor communication, lack of psychological support, and failure to observe privacy were negative childbirth experiences reported. Social support: physical and psychological support provided comfort, consolation and encouragement to mothers. Childbirth fears: negativity of care providers, operations, unknown outcomes and complications were major sources of fear. Meaning attached to childbirth experiences: To individual mothers, it meant a strong and brave woman, determined, self confident, self belief and respect to a mother. Culturally, operated women were considered bewitched, weak and failures while vaginally delivered women considered brave and strong. Birthing environment: labour wards were reported to be clean, with inadequacies in supplies and beds while washrooms were dirty and agonizing. Spirituality: women prayed, held on to God for help and gave thanks to Him after birth.

Conclusion: Childbirth experiences were unique, elicited unique feelings, responses and challenges thus the need for proper assessment and understanding of a mother as an individual, coupled with positivity of a service provider for a positive childbirth experience.