• Involuntary childlessness: an interpretative phenomenological analysis of black women’s experiences in Luton

      Atang, Ndifreke Charles (University of Bedfordshire, 2016-06)
      This study aimed to explore the perception and experiences of involuntary childlessness among Black African women in the UK. While there are several studies in the area of infertility, they have usually been focused on national surveys of infertility prevalence and psychological-related stress treatment from a sample selected from White and middle-class women; in addition to a growing literature on the experiences of involuntary childlessness or infertility in developing countries. However, there is a lack of research exploring the impact that ethnicity and culture could have on the perception and experience of infertility within Western societies. An interpretative phenomenological perspective informed by the philosophical principles of Martin Heidegger (1927–1962) was used to explore the experiences of eight involuntarily childless Black African women in the UK. Semi-structured interviews were used in collecting data, and analysed using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA). Three superordinate themes emerged from the data analysis: ‘the vulnerable self’, ‘self and the social world’ and ‘coping with involuntary childlessness’ – revealing the complexities of the women’s experiences. The superordinate themes reflected a common experience shared by the women. The study revealed a concern about disclosure and exposure of their state of involuntary childlessness and the social judgement and stigma that comes with it; revealing the significant role that the community beliefs and perceptions play in the lives of the involuntarily childless women. The interviews also reveal that the experience of involuntary childlessness or infertility is one that gives rise to emotional pain, grief, loss of self-esteem, isolation and even discrimination. It is believed that the insights that this study provides will contribute to the empirical studies that have used IPA, as well as provide useful insights for infertility services in Luton as a way of ensuring that services meet the needs of the growing Black and minority ethnic population.