Experiences of meaningfulness by a group of women during their first pregnancy : a focus on relationships
The health and wellbeing of pregnant women are considered to be an international priority by the World Health Organization (WHO). Even though pregnant women constitute a large part of the population globally and in South Africa, there is a lack of research regarding their psychological wellbeing. It is known that a psychologically well-functioning pregnant woman has the capacity to attach to her baby and to be an effective parent. The WHO places emphasis on the health of pregnant women not only because they are crucial to the survival and reproduction of humanity, but also because they are more vulnerable during pregnancy and need extra support. Pregnancy is associated with many physical and psychological changes and has a major impact on a woman’s life. Although there are challenges associated with pregnancy, it can also be a special experience of psychological and personal growth. Most previous studies have focused on the medical, biological, and pathological aspects of pregnancy. Although this research is important, it is crucial that psychological well-being during pregnancy is investigated in order to find ways to proactively strengthen it. Research showed that women whose psychological well-being is lacking are vulnerable and prone to developing mental disorders. A pregnant woman who is psychologically well is better equipped to form a healthy attachment with her baby, cope with her newfound parenthood, and is less likely to develop pregnancy-related mental illness. It is clear that the presence of meaningfulness in life leads to enhanced psychological well-being. This study is conducted from a psychofortological perspective and focuses on exploring and gaining a deeper understanding of first-time pregnant women’s experiences of meaningfulness during their pregnancy. A qualitative, phenomenological approach was used to gain a deep understanding of the women’s experience of meaningfulness. Reflexive journals and the Mmogo-method® were used to gather data. After a thematic analysis was done on the visual (the presentations and participant’s explanations thereof) and textual (reflexive journals) data a deeper understanding was gained of the participants’ experiences of meaningfulness during pregnancy. According to the data spirituality and relationships contributed most to their experience of meaningfulness during pregnancy. This study focused only on how meaningfulness was found in the participant’s various relationships during their pregnancy. The main relationships that were identified were with their husband, their unborn baby, and with their parents. A rich description of these relationships helped to deepen our understanding of the first-time pregnant women’s experience of meaningfulness. The findings from this study make a valuable contribution to the improved understanding of the concept meaningfulness in the specific life domain of relationships and in the context of pregnancy. This confirmed the structure of the Meaning Model of Wissing and Delle Fave (2014) and deepened our understanding of the ‘meaningfulness in life’ category. This understanding is valuable as it can be used proactively to develop programmes to enhance pregnant women’s psychological well-being. No previous research in this regard in the South African context specifically could be found. Literature indicated that there is a lack of research to better our understanding of meaningfulness in different life domains and contexts, especially from a psychofortological perspective. This study’s contribution is significant as it not only deepens our understanding of meaningfulness experienced during pregnancy and the role relationships play, but also because it can make a valuable contribution to informing, developing, and implementing intervention programmes to proactively enhance the psychological well-being of pregnant women in South Africa.
- Humanities