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

Lesley Briscoe, Tina Lavender, Linda McGowan

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (journal)peer-review

    48 Citations (Scopus)
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    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.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)2330-2345
    Number of pages16
    JournalJournal of Advanced Nursing
    Issue number10
    Early online date3 Jun 2016
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2016
    EventInternational Triennial Congress of Midwives - Toronto, Canada
    Duration: 18 Jun 201722 Jun 2017
    Conference number: 31


    • barrier
    • birth
    • concept analysis
    • cross-discipline
    • midwives
    • nurses
    • postnatal
    • pregnancy
    • repair
    • threat
    • vulnerability


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