Mum's the word: A phenomenological exploration of early motherhood

Sheeran, L 2012, Mum's the word: A phenomenological exploration of early motherhood, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), Health Sciences, RMIT University.

Document type: Thesis
Collection: Theses

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Title Mum's the word: A phenomenological exploration of early motherhood
Author(s) Sheeran, L
Year 2012
Abstract Having a baby and becoming a mother signifies a major transition in a woman’s life.This thesis investigates and gives voice to women’s experiences of early motherhood.van Manen’s phenomenological approach was used as the theoretical framework forthis research. The study aimed to explicate the lived experience of early motherhoodfor a cohort of 13 women having an essentially normal pregnancy.The study was located in a rural municipality in Victoria, Australia. A purposive sampleof adult women was selected as they were experiencing a healthy pregnancy withtheir first child and willing to discuss their experience of early motherhood. Data werecollected from participants using individual sequential audiotaped in-depth interviewsand from personal journals kept by four of the participants. Interviews were held atthree key stages of early motherhood: late pregnancy, and approximately two weeksand eight weeks after giving birth. Most interviews were about an hour in duration andall occurred in participants’ own homes or the homes of extended family. Interviewdata were transcribed verbatim and analysed using van Manen’s phenomenologicalapproach.The findings of the study are presented chronologically around the pregnancy, labourand birth and postnatal periods. For these first time mothers pregnancy resulted in araft of changes to their lives, Women shared rich descriptions of their physical andemotional experience of pregnancy and the themes revealed about women’sexperience of their relationships at this time focussed on their relationships with theirpartners, their unborn baby and their mother. ‘Waiting’ and ‘wondering’ were alsodominant themes in women’s experience of pregnancy. Key themes that emergedfrom women’s descriptions of their labour and birth were the experience of labour,managing labour pain, support to get through labour and birth, and the concertedeffort of second stage. Other themes uncovered included women’s surprise at theamount of blood at delivery and birthing in a technological age. In the postnatal period,the findings concerning women’s experience of early motherhood were groupedaround the themes of living the physical experience of early motherhood, learning tofeed, learning to mother and relationship changes.The findings from this research study contribute new insights into the phenomenon ofearly motherhood and have implications for midwifery and MCH nursing practice.Recommendations from the study are presented in the form of a model that integratesclinical practice, education and research. The overarching recommendation is thatmidwives and MCH nurses develop a framework for care that fosters a supportive,nurturing, ‘holding’ environment for women across pregnancy, the perinatal and earlymotherhood periods. Steps to operationalise these recommendations are detailed.
Degree Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Institution RMIT University
School, Department or Centre Health Sciences
Keyword(s) Exploring
early motherhood,
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Created: Fri, 19 Jul 2013, 15:42:10 EST by Keely Chapman
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