User Interviews & Research methods
After synthesizing the results from 25 online respondents; I clustered similar responses into 3 themes.
- Societal pressures. The need and desire to fulfill the societal pressures to be the perfect mother.
- Isolation. Due to reasons of exhaustion at times left women physically isolated and that took an emotional toll.
- Priority shift. Inevitably priorities pre/post baby change, however career is still an important factor in a mothers life as to be a strong role model for their child.
- Empowerment. There is still a huge gap with empowering women to go back to work, and also empowering them to not go back to work. There is a stigma for women who also prefer to stay at home that "being a stay at home mum, just isn't enough".
Results - Women who have experienced abortions first hand
After synthesizing the results from 34 online respondents; I clustered similar responses into 4 themes.
What was most interesting in the results was the lack of support (informational/emotional) that was offered, results show during abortion is the apt time most support was needed. Looking for emotional support from others who have experienced it and breaking down the stigma is everyones goal post-abortion.
- Isolation: Women tend not to disclose that they had an abortion to anyone which makes them feel completely isolated directly after the procedure. No support or comfort is felt (other than direct partner) "Talking to family and friends felt impossible to explain the sadness, the guilt and the pain. Nobody understood the weight I felt.. Still Feel."
- Moving on: Just like after-care provided, 100% of the information was distributed via flyer of very inaccurate non descriptive information. Most women directly after the procedure carried on as if nothing happened. "I immediately reverted to my routine and throw myself into my work." "I got back up and pretended nothing happened" they would have like further after-care information in forms of physical object or an app.
- Relationship Strain: It had an added strain on some relationships with their partners, 70% broke up with their partner entirely which adds to the validation it was the right choice for them, the others had little to no affect.
- Taboo: A sense of guilt/shame encompasses women directly following abortion, and no one tends to discuss this until years later as a means to empower women and to break the stigma. "But abortion has such a horrible stigma attached to it that it's nearly impossible to speak of it comfortable and neutrally to anyone"
First round of interviews.
Line - First-time mother.
Thursday, September 15th.
- Education of sexual health: having sex and pregnancy is not stigmatized in Denmark. Main topics are how it works and contraception and to 'be careful not to become pregnant'. Nothing regarding mental health or abortion.
- Judgement: Everyone is quick to give advice and have "general ideas on how you should feel during pregnancy"
- Lack of Connection & Isolation: During the first few months of the baby being born, Line had times where she did not feel connected to the baby at all, she spoke to her health nurse and turned to facebook groups. During the pregnancy not much isolation was felt but after very much so along with her husband. During visits from friends she felt 'secondary' to the baby and it made her feel extremely isolated further.
- Cross-over: There is a strong connection felt between women who have abortions and first time mothers, especially within the first trimester during the decision making process, there was a "constant back and forth of emotions about if the baby would 'stick'", sometimes she wished the baby wouldn't 'stick', due to hormones and anxiety.
RIKKE - FIRST-TIME MOTHER,EXPERIENCED NATURAL ABORTION.
Thursday, September 15th.
- Post-birth: "Sort out all of this information alone... it's alot of calculating and looking on the internet" In regards to women and careers after birth.
- Reality Check: Would have liked to have some reality check, but people always say 'you can't' do this/you can't do that.. "I don't want any of it (advice)... I can do whatever i want".
- First Trimester: During the first stage of pregnancy the worry is if the child would "stick", can relate to abortion.
- Perfect Vs Not Perfect: Why women feel they receive judgment. And "Having an abortion, shows you are not perfect in every sense"
Raffaella - First time mother, experienced postpartum depression.
Friday, September 16th.
- Idealist Mothers: People often say "You don't have a child until you are grown-up, can provide and you are mature enough" but that is not the case there is never an ideal time to be a mother.
- Judgement: People don't talk about abortion: It is a secret, there are feelings of guilt, people judge.
- Motherhood Mentorship: The focus was on the health of the baby, it was never on the mother. You are offered a test post-baby that you can decline that the health nurse gives you. Some mentorship program is needed, someone with more experience to watch over mothers and to see what was going on. "Years later I was still looking for someone to talk too, as I feel it was never resolved."
- Perfect face: "I think the problem is we want to be perfect. There is a lot of stress.. It's a moment of insecurity because you don't know what you are doing" About postpartum depression. "The other women always show this perfect face. In these blogs it's all about how to be a perfect mother, perfect food, house, clothes, education... just perfect."
Bahar - Experienced Abortion
Friday, September 16th.
- Support and Trust: Post-Abortion is the hardest time both physically and emotionally, there needs to needs support, talking to someone, it is really heavy stuff. Maybe women feel the lose of trust, trust for their bodies and trust is the most important thing during abortions, "in my case.. i didn't know how to approach the subject"
- Education: Educate within sexual health classes, to know about abortion and what their rights are. Give girls the tools for if/when this may come up in their lives to break down the stigma and to prepare them meaning less anxiety.
- Judgment: People who have experienced abortion feel judged by society, however other women do understand. "If there was a platform putting me in touch with women I would have used it." Feelings of isolation during and post-abortion. "Years later I talked to my friends about the experience and immediately they said WHY didn't you say anything before."
Beatrix- women's mentorship program at kvinfo
Tuesday, September 20th.
- Gender Inequality: If there is to be gender equality, men and women have to share the time with the baby. Explore deeply what is happening within paternity leave and why they are not sharing the leave?
- Societal Pressure: There are real tensions between maternity leave and everything around it, but after the maternity the child goes into a system that raises them. These ambitious women feel it is not right, so they go back to work early and they are terribly perceived from the rest of society.
- Companies Involvement: Looking at the big corporations as customers, how can they be more fair to their employees and still look good to society? If you look at Mersk they have quite an interesting mentor program they have the policy on diversity. But what is happening in terms of maternity?
- Responsibility Share: Women are out of work for a year and a half, so what the women movement is doing is for more men to enjoy the paternity leave because it is not happening at least not in the private sector.
Pål - first-time father
Thursday, September 22nd.
- Paternity Leave: It has such a high value being able to spend time with your children, men take paternity leave to really connect and most of Pal's friends said "if their workplace don't accept that, they will find somewhere else".
- Mothers Career Progression: Having a family definitely delays the mothers career progression, "I think the possibilities are still there for her, just slowed down by having a family". The mother has a lot of identity connect to work, and knows that after the leave she will have it back.
- Paternal Depression Stigma: There is stigma around depression not only for the mother but also the father. "I have definitely experiences anxiety as everything was happening so fast and I was feeling very frozen". "She has more time to become the expert and I felt like I was the student... so it was a strange balance."
- Father Bond: When the baby was kicking the father felt it and recognised that this was happening, but this feeling would often leave quite quickly and so it was hard for him to connect to the baby "I mean it's not like its my body changing..."
- Gender Inequality: "Dad's get a lot of stuff for free from society, for example if I change a diaper I get a "well done"... The roles of men and women are more traditional than I actually want to believe."
- Integration: Being away from work regardless of gender is problematic as it takes a long time to restart, it should be the employers responsibility to start the dialogue between the workplace and the mother/father even when they are on leave. "Because I have been working with refugees it's kind of the same thing, they are completely isolated (as are mothers on maternity leave) and it works against inclusion and integration back into the workplace".