• childbearing;
  • maternal adaptation;
  • Scandinavia

The purpose of the study of 147 healthy primiparous women is to investigate the relationship between maternal adaptation during pregnancy and postpartum. This report is part of a larger study of relationships between family dynamics and maternal adaptation during childbearing in Norway, Sweden and the US. Variables included maternal adaptation, age, social status, mother's employment, type of birth, length of hospitalization and mother infant time together in the hospital. Mothers reporting greater adaptation during pregnancy reported greater adaptation postpartum. Mothers who believed themselves adapted indicated that they were better prepared for labour, had more control over their birth experience, a better relationship with their partner, and perceived greater participation in child care from their partner. Few differences were found in maternal adaptation among all mothers, and few relationships were found among selected sociodemographic variables and maternal adaptation. Formation of maternal identity and mother's confidence in her ability to cope with the tasks of motherhood was affected by mothers' prenatal identification with the motherhood role, supporting the notion that knowing what to expect provides a sense of control. Mothers' prenatal identification with the motherhood role directly or indirectly affected her satisfaction with motherhood. Nurses may want to develop practice strategies to support these findings.