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Keywords:

  • first-time mother;
  • maternal competence;
  • maternal role attainment;
  • social support

Background.  Maternal role attainment is largely a cognitive and social process that is influenced by the cultural and family context and the mother's and child's traits and characteristics. Feedback from a social network is important to validate competent performance.

Aim.  To ascertain factors that contributed to the maternal competence of first-time mothers when the child was 8 months old.

Methods.  Data collection was by structured questionnaires. The sample consisted of 248 first-time mothers who completed the questionnaires when their child was 8 months old. The data were analysed using stepwise regression analysis.

Results.  According to the multivariate analysis, nine predictors remained in the model to explain maternal competence. The more balanced the mother's state of mind, the better she felt about succeeding in child care, and the more easy going the child was, the greater was the mother's competence. The more the mother felt isolation from society, the less was her maternal competence. Younger and healthier mothers, and those who readily accepted their child showed better competence. Also, if the mother still breast-fed her child, the more concrete support she received from the support network, the better was her maternal competence.

Conclusion.  The findings suggest important factors that contribute to the maternal competence of first-time mothers include mothers' resources, ease of caring for the child, breast-feeding and social support received from those close to them.