Transition to Motherhood

Authors

  • Antonia M. Nelson RNC, PhD

    assistant professor of nursing, Corresponding author
    1. Saint Joseph College, West Hartford, CT.
      Antonia M. Nelson, RNC, PhD, Saint Joseph College, Nursing Department, 1678 Asylum Avenue, West Hartford, CT 06117-2791. E-mail: amnelson@sjc.edu.
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Antonia M. Nelson, RNC, PhD, Saint Joseph College, Nursing Department, 1678 Asylum Avenue, West Hartford, CT 06117-2791. E-mail: amnelson@sjc.edu.

Abstract

Objective: To synthesize the results of nine qualitative studies related to the transition to motherhood, using Noblit and Hare's method of meta-synthesis development.

Data Sources: CINAHL, MEDLINE, PsycINFO, Sociological Abstracts, and Dissertation Abstracts, using the keywords transition, adaptation, motherhood, and mother.

Study Selection: Studies were evaluated for inclusion related to study focus and comparability of findings. Nine studies were included in the final sample, four using a grounded theory methodology and five using either a phenomenologic or phenomenologic/hermeneutic method.

Data Extraction: A series of overlapping, repeating steps as outlined by Noblit and Hare were followed in conducting this meta-synthesis. Detailed tables of metaphors, themes, concepts, and phrases from each study were constructed and studies were compared by means of reciprocal translations.

Data Synthesis: Two processes inherent in maternal transition emerged: engagement and growth and transformation. In addition, five thematic categories signifying areas of disruption present in the maternal transition and 13 underlying themes were revealed.

Conclusions: To facilitate maternal transition, nurses must remain sensitive to the maternal insecurity of primiparae and encourage their maximum maternal engagement, particularly during periods of forced mother-infant separation such as the newborn's admission to the intensive-care unit. In addition, prenatal discussion of realistic expectations for the transitional period, ongoing support through the first 6 months postpartum, and the use of role models should be integrated into postpartum support programs to assist mothers in negotiating typical areas of disruption during maternal transition.

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