Year of Publication

2013

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

College

Nursing

Department

Nursing

First Advisor

Dr. Patricia B. Howard

Second Advisor

Dr. Kristin B. Ashford

Abstract

When a woman discovers that she is pregnant, she begins a process of internal work to develop her mother role. This process has been outlined in the literature for the delivery of a healthy full-term baby, however little is known about the process for mothers of medically fragile babies. A threatened pregnancy and subsequent delivery of a medically fragile baby involves a different process of internal work by the mother to prepare for her role. Mothers with a baby in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) experience stress, uncertainty, and anxiety potentially causing a permanent impact on the successful development of her role.

It is the purpose of this dissertation to explore the process of mother role development among those first-time mothers having a baby in the NICU. This study was conducted using a qualitative grounded theory method. Data collection consisted of personal journals, in-person interviews, researcher notes and observation.

The specific aims include (1) describing the disruption in the individual’s preconceived idea of being a mother, (2) exploring specific strategies that support the mother in the development of her role while in the NICU, (3) describing the mother’s perception of her role during physiologic changes in her baby, (4) examining the mother’s evaluation of her mother-role success, (5) developing a deeper understanding of the process of developing the role of mother while in the NICU, and (6) constructing a theoretical model to illustrate the process of becoming a mother while in the NICU.

Included in

Nursing Commons

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