Dr. Mary Mitchell, a professor in the department of Nursing and Midwifery at the University of West England, interviewed 14 women who had experience with professionals in complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) in order to determine the nature of their experiences and what motivated them to seek CAM intervention. CAM professionals focus their practice on the “interconnectedness of mind, body, and spirit,” and many women seek their help in order to “prepare themselves for labor and increase their chance of having a normal birth, to aid relaxation and to retain control over health decisions” (Mitchell 2014). The use of CAM allows women to feel that they have more agency over their body and become more connected with themselves and their unborn child.
Overall, the women used 21 different varieties of CAM. Some of the most common CAM uses were massage therapy, hypnobirthing, yoga, homeopathy, and chiropractic services. The women stated how the varieties of CAM helped to ease their physical ailments like nausea and pain. CAM also served as a means of improving their emotional wellbeing. With the improvement of the physical symptoms, the women’s mental states improved as well.
Another issue many women experience with pregnancy is fear and anxiety. Many of the women stated that their CAM professionals also filled a counselor or psychologist role. Some of the women expressed fear that past events, like their parents losing infants or they themselves being born premature, would occur within their own pregnancy. By talking about these fears, the women were able to reduce their anxieties. CAM professionals also emphasize that “birth is a natural event, one in which the female body is well designed to do” (279). By accentuating the natural aspects of childbirth, the women became more confident in themselves and their abilities.
Through CAM intervention that the women were able to seek treatment for both their physical and emotional pains related to pregnancy. All 14 women spoke highly of CAM treatments and felt that it enhanced their pregnancy experience. CAM allows the women to have more control over their body and to focus on the connectivity between their bodies and their minds and spirits.
Mitchell, M. (2014). Womens use of complementary and alternative medicine in pregnancy: A search for holistic wellbeing. Women and Birth, 27(4), 276–280. doi: 10.1016/j.wombi.2014.06.011