First-time mothers and child care when the child is 8 months old
The aim of the present study was to examine those resources and strengths that mothers find helpful for coping with child care when the child was 8 months old. This study is part of a more extensive longitudinal study project in which the growth into motherhood of first-time mothers was followed for 8 months postpartum. Data were collected by using structured questionnaires between August 1995 and March 1996. The sample comprised 254 first-time mothers and 248 mothers returned the questionnaires by mail. The multivariate method used was a stepwise regression analysis. Predictors included in the multivariate method to explain coping with child care were as follows: the mother’s competence, mother’s attachment to the child, mother’s self-concept, relation to the spouse, breastfeeding, decision-making support from the public health nurse and activity of the child. The strongest predictor was competence as a mother. The more competent the mother felt and the more attached the mother was to her child, the better her coping. The better the mother’s self-concept and relationship with the spouse were, the better she succeeded in taking care of the child. If the mother still breastfed her child and received decision-making support from public health nurses, she coped better in child care. Finally the more active the child was, the more the risk for unsuccessful child care increased. The results indicate that the first-time mother’s successful coping with child care when the child is 8 months old is associated with her own resources and attachment to the child as well as activity of the child and breastfeeding. A good relationship between the spouses and support for decision making from the public health nurse also contribute to coping with child care.