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Rosemary Muthoni Thaiya - School of Nursing Sciences, Kenyatta University, Kenya

Dr. Grace Gachuiri (BScN, MScN, PhD) - School of Nursing Sciences, Department of Medical Surgical Nursing and Pre-Clinical Sciences, Kenyatta University, Kenya

Dr. Sarah Bett (BScN, MScN, PhD) - School of Nursing Sciences, Department of Medical Surgical Nursing and Pre-Clinical Sciences, Kenyatta University, Kenya

Dr. Joel Lessan - Pediatric Surgeon, Head of Specialized Surgery Unit, Kenyatta National Hospital, Kenya


Background: Gastroschisis is a rare congenital condition that occurs while a fetus is in the early stages of development which results in the abdominal wall having a protrusion of abdominal contents – large and small intestines and the stomach. Delivery of a neonate with chronic illnesses like gastroschisis greatly affects caregivers and mothers because neonates who do not receive surgical care immediately after delivery end up losing their lives, while those who do survive require extensive medical and comprehensive care and additional hospitalization which many parents are unsure of how to provide or are not able to afford. To contribute to the existing body of knowledge on gastroschisis, a phenomenological approach was used to draw from the experiences of mothers admitted at KNH providing care for their neonates diagnosed with gastroschisis; to ascertain whether they receive adequate support from the hospital and other people out of the hospital that are close to them. Broad Objective: To explore the support given to mothers whose neonates are diagnosed with gastroschisis in KNH. Methodology: Phenomenological descriptive research design was adopted in this study. In-depth interviews with twenty-five (25) mothers were purposively sampled, interviews were audiotaped, and the data was later transcribed and inductively analyzed into themes and sub-themes. Findings: The results indicated that the mothers were positive about their pregnancies and attended antenatal clinics, mental symptoms exhibited by these mothers due to the nature of the neonates and the kind of support they needed from family and health care providers. Additionally, both positive and negative relationship was exhibited between the mothers and the healthcare providers. Moreover, as a result of fatigue due to caregiving for children diagnosed with gastroschisis mothers experienced support from spouses, family members, healthcare givers, and peers. The study concluded Prenatal Experiences of Mothers with neonates with gastroschisis were positive and the majority of them were happy that they were pregnant and were ready to follow doctors’ guidelines throughout the period. Postnatally, the mothers experienced various mental challenges due to inadequate support from their close family members and inadequate information concerning the condition before their children were born. They too were unprepared to deal with the stress and difficulties related to the neonates’ condition. The majority of the mothers received support from family members and fellow mothers with similar experiences. Recommendations: A more thorough prenatal screening is recommended to assist in the early detection of such congenital disorders, which can direct birth preparations for the mother and child. Healthcare providers should consider the mental health of mothers with neonates born with congenital anomalies rather than concentrating on the neonates alone. To assist in easing the mental and emotional strain placed on parents, hospital staff should provide professional counseling. They should also encourage peer counseling among mothers. Additionally, it is recommended that future researchers consider different methodological approaches in the collection and analysis of data related to gastrointestinal complications such as gastroschisis .

Full Length Research (PDF Format)