We know from the literature that many women have negative and disempowering breastfeeding experiences and may feel wounded by their lack of success in achieving their breastfeeding goal. The term ‘trauma’ comes from the Greek word meaning ‘wound’. Eye Movement De-sensitization And Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy may enable women to process the previous experience and be open to another attempt at mastering the behaviour with their subsequent baby. Exploring EDMR as a therapy for birth related trauma is timely as little is known about the effects of applying the therapy during pregnancy, childbirth and the early postnatal period (Baas et al. 2017).
This study is focused on mothers who had a previous negative breastfeeding experience and whose level of fear prevents engagement in the behaviour again.
Quasi-experimental Sample Women who had a previous negative breastfeeding experience and are pregnant again will be recruited using social media and invited to take part in the study. Power analysis will be used to estimate the sample size.
Data collection approaches
The first stage of the study will be exploratory and descriptive using online survey, live chat and email communication to gauge an understanding of the factors surrounding women’s previous negative breastfeeding experience. A sub sample of women who complete the online data collection and are willing to support the intervention arm of the study will be invited to take part in the next stage of the study where they will have pre-birth measures of anxiety and trauma taken prior to being randomised into receiving either treatment as usual (TAU) or EMDR therapy. Intervention arm Traumatic factors will be identified and an intervention provided using early EMDR interventions (EEI) therapy sessions x3. These sessions will be delivered by specifically trained health professionals. Post birth data will be collected and repeat measures applied.
This study will provide evidence of the effectiveness of EMDR as a suitable intervention for reducing trauma associated with previous breastfeeding experience, through the use of the early EMDR intervention model. The main outcome is breastfeeding behaviour and resolution of negative thinking focused on breast feeding behaviour.
Data analyses will include qualitative and quantitative measures.
We are looking for a top quality graduate with a background in midwifery, psychiatry or psychology. The candidate must have training in research methods and preferably have experience of using social media for research.
Suggested reading in preparation for interview
Baas, M. A. M., Stramrood, C. A. I., Dijksman, L. M., de Jongh, A., & van Pampus, M. G. (2017). The OptiMUM-study: EMDR therapy in pregnant women with posttraumatic stress disorder after previous childbirth and pregnant women with fear of childbirth: design of a multicentre randomized controlled trial. European Journal of Psychotraumatology, 8(1), 1293315.
Beck CT, Watson S (2008) Impact of birth trauma on breast-feeding: a tale of two pathways. Nurs Res. 57 (4):228-36. doi: 10.1097/01.NNR.0000313494.87282.90.
Bowles, B.C., 2011. Promoting breastfeeding self-efficacy: Fear appeals in breastfeeding management. Clinical Lactation, 2(1), pp.11-14. Dennis, C.L., 2003. The breastfeeding self‐efficacy scale: Psychometric assessment of the
- To hold, or expect to achieve by 15 August, an Upper Second Class Honours (2:1) Degree or equivalent from a UK institution (or overseas award deemed to be equivalent via UK NARIC) in a related or cognate field.
If the University receives a large number of applicants for the project, the following desirable criteria may be applied to shortlist applicants for interview.
- Experience using research methods or other approaches relevant to the subject domain
- Relevant professional qualification and/or a Degree in a Health or Health related area
The University offers the following awards to support PhD study and applications are invited from UK, EU and overseas for the following levels of support:
Vice Chancellors Research Studentship (VCRS)
Full award (full-time PhD fees + DfE level of maintenance grant + RTSG for 3 years).
This scholarship will cover full-time PhD tuition fees and provide the recipient with £15,000 maintenance grant per annum for three years (subject to satisfactory academic performance). This scholarship also comes with £900 per annum for three years as a research training support grant (RTSG) allocation to help support the PhD researcher.
Vice-Chancellor’s Research Bursary (VCRB)
Part award (full-time PhD fees + 50% DfE level of maintenance grant + RTSG for 3 years).
This scholarship will cover full-time PhD tuition fees and provide the recipient with £7,500 maintenance grant per annum for three years (subject to satisfactory academic performance). This scholarship also comes with £900 per annum for three years as a research training support grant (RTSG) allocation to help support the PhD researcher.
Vice-Chancellor’s Research Fees Bursary (VCRFB)
Fees only award (PhD fees + RTSG for 3 years).
This scholarship will cover full-time PhD tuition fees for three years (subject to satisfactory academic performance). This scholarship also comes with £900 per annum for three years as a research training support grant (RTSG) allocation to help support the PhD researcher.
Department for the Economy (DFE)
The scholarship will cover tuition fees at the Home rate and a maintenance allowance of £ 15,009 per annum for three years. EU applicants will only be eligible for the fee’s component of the studentship (no maintenance award is provided). For Non-EU nationals the candidate must be "settled" in the UK. This scholarship also comes with £900 per annum for three years as a research training support grant (RTSG) allocation to help support the PhD researcher.
Due consideration should be given to financing your studies; for further information on cost of living etc. please refer to: www.ulster.ac.uk/doctoralcollege/postgraduate-research/fees-and-funding/financing-your-studies
The Doctoral College at Ulster University
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