Purpose: To describe the essence of nine nurses' participation in an unexpected/traumatic birthing process to ascertain what impact this experience had on the nurse.
Study Design: Descriptive phenomenology was the qualitative research design used.
Methods: A four-person team analyzed the transcribed interviews of each nurse's experience using Colaizzi's method of analysis. We recruited nine intrapartum nurses from a call-out to Indiana Association of Women's Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses Section Chapter members.
Results: One overarching theme, From Behind Closed Doors, and the following six subthemes described the essence of the participants' experiences: (1) Feeling the Chaos; (2) Expect the Unexpected; (3) It's Hard to Forget; (4) All Hands on Deck; (5) Becoming; and (6) For the Love of OB (Obstetrics).
Clinical Implications: Intrapartum nurses in this study clearly demonstrated that the impact of an unexpected event can be emblazoned on one's memory for many years, with an immediate response of secondary traumatic stress disorder symptoms.