Early postnatal anal incontinence experience: an existential phenomenological study

Sharon Colebrook Hutchens, Pirjo Vuoskoski

Research output: Other contribution


This study aims to produce phenomenological descriptive and interpretive knowledge about the early postnatal anal incontinence experience, from a physiotherapy disciplinary perspective. The philosophical underpinnings of the study draw on the texts of Edmund Husserl and Maurice Merleau-Ponty. Phenomenological interviews were conducted and audio-recorded with three participants, who all lived with the condition. An open, in-depth approach was adopted to allow rich and nuanced data to be obtained. The transcribed interviews were first analysed based on Giorgi’s (2009) descriptive phenomenological method. The essential structure of the postnatal anal incontinence experience consists of six key constituents: changed bodily self, evolving sense of self, sense of becoming familiar, sense of hope, emotional engagement, and an overriding sense of putting baby first. Finally, an embodied interpretation in the form of a poem was articulated following the framework presented by Galvin and Todres (2013) of a body-based hermeneutics, using emotive language to enhance feelings of empathy with the reader. All the six key-constituents forming the essential structure were at least implicitly present in the poem. It is hoped that the results will add to the evidence base, and contribute towards the development of meaningful services and improved physiotherapeutic care for these women. Key-words: Early postnatal anal incontinence experience; existential phenomenology; meaningful physiotherapeutic care
Original languageEnglish
Publisher36th International Human Science Research Conference, Between Necessity and Choice: Existential Dilemmas in the Human Life-World, Jelenia Gora, Poland, July 11-14, 2017
Place of PublicationJelenia Gora, Poland
Publication statusPublished - 12 Jul 2017

Bibliographical note

© 2017 the authors


  • Early postnatal anal incontinence experience
  • existential phenomenology
  • meaningful physiotherapeutic care


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