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Postnatal perineal trauma and general health in Maltese women

Spiteri, Mary Carmen


Mary Carmen Spiteri


Janet Draper

Julie Jomeen


Over the last twenty years there has been an increasing international research interest in women's experience of postnatal perineal trauma and its impact on their physical, psychological and sexual health. To date, however, no research on perineal morbidity and general health has been undertaken in Malta. Using a longitudinal descriptive correlational design, a homogenous systematic sample of 144 Maltese postnatal mothers was recruited with the aim of exploring the relationship between perineal trauma and general health following normal delivery. Self-administered questionnaires within 48 hour s of delivery and again at 10 days, 6 weeks and 13 weeks sought to assess perineal pain, urinary and faecal continence, resumption of sexual intercourse and dyspareunia. The General Health Questionnaire-12 (Goldberg and Williams, 1998) assessed mothers' psychosocial health. Open-ended questions explored further their experience of perineal trauma and general health. The retention rate at the end of time 4 was 86.1%. Following descriptive and inferential statistical analysis, the key findings revealed a constant decline in perineal trauma and an inconsistent but significant rise in general health over time. Mothers sutured by senior hospital officers reported higher scores of well-being, and resumed sexual intercourse earlier than those sutured by registrars and senior registrars. Significant negative correlations persisted between postnatal total perineal trauma and resumption of sexual intercourse at 13 weeks but not at 6 weeks.Qualitative data generated three main themes: experiencing total perineal trauma, resuming sexual intercourse and maintaining general health. Mothers identified tiredness, exhaustion and emotional pain as other burdens alongside a painful perineum. 'Being not ready yet', 'fear of falling pregnant again' and 'caring for the baby and family' were reasons preventing postpartum sexual intercourse. Tedeschi, Park and Calhoun's (1998) post-traumatic growth theory provided an overarching theoretical framework.


Spiteri, M. C. (2009). Postnatal perineal trauma and general health in Maltese women. (Thesis). University of Hull. Retrieved from

Thesis Type Thesis
Deposit Date Aug 15, 2011
Publicly Available Date Feb 22, 2023
Keywords Nursing; Midwifery
Public URL
Additional Information Department of Nursing and Midwifery, The University of Hull
Award Date Sep 1, 2009


Thesis (9.1 Mb)

Copyright Statement
© 2009 Spiteri, Mary Carmen. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the written permission of the copyright holder.

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