From the individual perspective, security, which is essential to life quality, is characterised as an elementary human need that requires fulfilment. During the transition to parenthood, mothers and fathers are confronted with changes in physical and psychosocial processes that are accompanied by uncertainty and insecurity. Feelings of insecurity may have consequences affecting their pregnancy and childbirth experiences as well as their adaption to the parental role in the first weeks following childbirth. In this context, it is important to understand how parents express and interpret their sense of security to effectively support their security needs. This integrative review aimed to provide a critical synthesis of existing research on parents’ experiences of their sense of security associated with pregnancy, childbirth and the postnatal period.
A literature search of the PubMed, CINAHL, PsycINFO and GESIS Sowiport databases was performed. Peer-reviewed papers that were published in English or German between 1990 and 2017 focusing on mothers’ and fathers’ experiences of sense of security in the context of maternity care were included. A thematic analysis was performed to organise and describe the findings.
Eleven research-based papers met the inclusion criteria. Four key themes among the data were analysed: the meaning and manifestation of sense of security, sense of security in relation to confidence and control, lack of feeling secure and coping strategies, and factors influencing sense of security.
The findings revealed a complex profile of the perception of security associated with pregnancy, childbirth and the postnatal period. Sense of security can depend on multiple internal and external factors, which can differ between mothers and fathers. Research on the experiences and perceptions associated with fathers’ sense of security is lacking. Further research focused on the experiences of security from the parents’ perspective is necessary. Midwives and other involved health professionals should be aware of their role in creating a sense of security among parents. Based on a local specific understanding of security experiences, professional caregivers have the opportunity to support parents more effectively with regard to their specific security needs.