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Keywords:

  • Early postpartum period;
  • Maternal development;
  • Postpartum period;
  • Primiparous women

Objective:

To describe Contemporary women's postpartum experience. Previous descriptions, especially Rubin's taking-in and taking-hold, may no longer apply in this era of 24- to 48-hour hospital stays.

Design:

Qualitative descriptive, using grounded theory methodology. Participants were interviewed about their postpartum experiences. Constant comparative analysis of the interview transcripts was concurrent with data collection.

Setting:

Interviews were conducted iv participants' homes during the 1st week after childbirth and again 1 to 2 weeks later.

Participants:

Thirty-two first-time mothers, who vaginally delivered a full-term infant, were recruited through childbirth education classes.

Results:

The major theme that emerged was Heading toward the new normal, a process through which the participants began to reorient their lives as mothers. The supporting categories were Appreciating the body, Settling in, and Establishing a new family.

Conclusions:

The participants' postpartum psychosocial development was a continuous process without discrete stages and phases. This finding differs from Rubin's puerperal change theory. With this new theoretical description, nurses can develop more effective care for contemporary child-bearing women.