Young Women's Experiences of Being a Mother to Preterm Infants: An Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) Approach
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The purpose of the current research was to explicate the experience of being a mother for young women who experienced a preterm birth over the first year of the infant’s life. Research has suggested that being born to a young mother and being born preterm are separate risk factors for adverse maternal and infant outcomes (Furstenberg, Brooks-Gunn, & Chase-Lansdale, 1989). However, little research has focused on the small group that are born both despite this theoretical ‘double risk’ (Thurman & Gonsalves, 1993). To achieve the aims of the project an Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis approach was utilised to analyse in-depth guided interviews from 14 young women (aged 15-19) who provided three interviews over a 12-month period. Four young mothers had given birth to a full-term infant and 10 young mothers had given birth to a preterm infant. Interviews occurred at time of infants’ discharge from hospital, 3-4 months post discharge, and 12 months post discharge. Three core themes emerged: the dual nature of motherhood, actual/ideal incongruence, and transforming self. Overall, the results of this study suggested few differences in the experience of being a mother for young mothers of preterm and full-term infants. The universal experience of being a mother was described in terms of polarities – good moments and challenging moments – highlighting the dual nature of parenting. However, there was considerable variability in the perception of the challenges faced by young women over time, with highly resourced mothers perceiving fewer challenges and greater enjoyment. Preterm birth compounded the everyday challenges of motherhood for young women by emphasising transportation difficulties and placing women in more frequent contact with people who they perceived negatively judged them. While preterm birth did lead to more challenges while the infant was in hospital, it did not detract from the enjoyment and knowledge that the young women were now mothers, which shaped the young women’s experiences.
Thesis (PhD Doctorate)
Doctor of Philosophy in Clinical Psychology (PhD ClinPsych)
School of Applied Psychology
Item Access Status
Preterm baby development