Life course theory as a framework to examine becoming a mother of a medically fragile preterm infant

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Abstract

Life course theory, a sociological framework, was used to analyze the phenomenon of becoming a mother, with longitudinal narrative data from 34 women who gave birth prematurely after a high-risk pregnancy, and whose infant became medically fragile. Women faced challenges of mistimed birth and mothering a technologically dependent infant. Before social ties were established, legal and biological ties required mothers to make critical decisions about their infants. Liminality characterized mothers' early involvement with their infants. The mothers worked to know, love, and establish deeper attachments to this baby. The infant's homecoming was a key turning point; it decreased liminality of early mothering, increased mothers' control of infants' care, and gave them time and place to know their infants more intimately. © 2008 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Res Nurs Health 32:38–49, 2009

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