Caring beyond the table : exploring New Zealand osteopaths’ experience of treating pregnant women : a descriptive phenomenological study

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McCollum, Frances
Author ORCID Profiles (clickable)
Master of Osteopathy
Unitec Institute of Technology
Niven, Elizabeth
Gasquoine, Susan
Masters Thesis
Ngā Upoko Tukutuku (Māori subject headings)
osteopathic medicine
qualitative research
McCollum, F. (2014). Caring beyond the table : exploring New Zealand osteopaths’ experience of treating pregnant women : a descriptive phenomenological study. An unpublished 90-credit research project submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Osteopathy, Unitec Institute of Technology.
Background: Pregnant women experience a variety of pregnancy-related complaints that significantly impact their quality of life. Osteopathic manual therapy is frequently used to treat these complaints in New Zealand. Women have described osteopathic care in pregnancy as increasing their quality of life by improving their ability to function and carry out their roles and responsibilities, reducing stress and providing security during a time of change (Kurth, 2011). Objective: This descriptive phenomenological study explores osteopaths’ experiences of caring for pregnant women. Method: Snowball sampling recruited five practising osteopaths who specialise in treating pregnant women. Data were collected using semi-structured interviews and analysed using descriptive phenomenology. Results: Two major themes were uncovered: 1) Gaining a sense of her journey, and 2) Caring beyond the table. Participants needed to gain an appreciation of each woman’s unique journey to and through pregnancy and the impact of pregnancy related changes on the individual in order to tailor management and support. Osteopathic care was perceived to reduce both the physical and emotional stress associated with a demanding time of change. Osteopaths viewed their role during pregnancy as nurturing and providing support from a unique perspective from other healthcare practitioners. A third minor theme related to the professional environment of osteopathy within the New Zealand healthcare setting. Conclusion: Osteopaths and other healthcare practitioners caring for pregnant women need to be aware of the heightened need for support during this time, and be able to respond to each woman’s individual needs. Osteopathic care during pregnancy has a focus on nurturing and supporting pregnant women. Due to the high prevalence of common pregnancy complaints and their profound impact on women’s lives, osteopathic care has the potential to change women’s journey through pregnancy by improving their quality of life.
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