The relationship between maternal age, communication and supportive relationships in the neonatal nursery for mothers of preterm infants

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Sheeran, N
Jones, L
Rowe, J
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2013
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Abstract

The birth of a preterm infant is associated with psychological distress and disruption to parenting for adult mothers but little is known about adolescent mothers in this context. This study investigated how adult and adolescent mothers experienced parenting in the neonatal nursery, with a focus on communication and supportive relationships. We conducted semi-structured interviews with 39 adult and 20 adolescent mothers of preterm infants at infant discharge. Interviews were analysed using inductive descriptive content analysis. Two themes explicated mothers' experiences of communication and supportive relationships: Facilitative and inhibitory nursing behaviours and Negotiating the nursery environment. Two contextual themes shaped mothers' experiences: Expectations and realities and Practical challenges. There were significant differences between adult and adolescent mothers for each theme. Communication was important for shaping mothers' experiences of parenting in the neonatal nursery. For adult mothers communication was mostly positive and they actively negotiated the nursery environment. Adolescent mothers experienced communication as more inhibitory and intergroup attributing the nurses' communication and unsupportive behaviours to their age. Health professional recognition of the influence of maternal age on communication and mothers' experiences of parenting would enhance interpersonal interactions with adolescent mothers and facilitate their parenting.

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Journal of Neonatal Nursing

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19

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6

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© 2013 Elsevier Inc. This is the author-manuscript version of this paper. Reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher. Please refer to the journal's website for access to the definitive, published version.

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Nursing

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