Identity and the transition to motherhood in first time mothers
This qualitative study explored the period of transition around having a child, during
which women develop an identity as a mother within the wider context of a
relational matrix. A comprehensive review of the literature highlighted the need to
consider a view of self that is not unified or rational. The literature also emphasised
the need to maintain mothers in a relational context. Stern's (1998) Motherhood
Constellation was focused on to provide a framework for considering identity
change with regard to relational aspects involving both the social world and intrapsychic
phenomena. This study investigated the experiences of 6 first time mothers
who, when approached by their Health Visitor about taking part, volunteered in
order to share their experiences of becoming a competent mother with other women.
A narrative approach based on Hollway and Jefferson's (2000) free association
narrative interview technique was used to look at the way the women narrated their
experiences, attending to intra-psychic phenomena within a sociocultural context.
The main findings of the study were that the women narrated their experiences of
change in terms of continuity and discontinuity of self and relationships, involving
conscious and unconscious processes. This occurred within the wider context of a
relational matrix featuring intimate relationships and others in the social world.
This both pre-dated this period of transition and was anticipated to extend into the
future. Implications for clinical practice and future research are explored and
quality issues are appropriately discussed.