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Title: Bonding experiences in mothers of infants with severe congenital heart disease
Author: Mellow, Tessa
ISNI:       0000 0004 5346 1716
Awarding Body: Royal Holloway, University of London
Current Institution: Royal Holloway, University of London
Date of Award: 2014
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Mothers who have an infant with severe congenital heart disease (CHD) face an uncertain and emotionally challenging postpartum period as their baby is hospitalised and undergoes life-saving cardiac surgical treatment. There are many potential risk factors to mother-infant bonding, that is, the emotional tie a mother develops with her baby, in the context of infant illness. Having an infant with a diagnosis of severe CHD could be seen as a threat to the mother's experience of bonding. However, there is limited understanding about the maternal perception of bonding with an infant with severe CHD. This study aimed to explore mothers' bonding with their infant with severe CHD throughout antenatal, perinatal and postnatal periods and how they coped with any challenges to this bond. Interviews were conducted with eight mothers of infants aged between eight and fifteen months with severe CHD, who were recruited from a children's hospital and who were diagnosed either antenatally or postnatally. Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis was used to identify themes across the mothers' accounts. Four superordinant themes were identified: ‘An Emotional Start to Motherhood and the Mother-Infant Bond', ‘Losing Control in the Context of CHD', ‘Keeping Connected to the Baby' and ‘Moving on Together'. The findings identify mother-infant bonding as a process that can withstand challenges such as maternal-infant separation, potential loss of the infant and maternal feelings of disconnection from the baby. Practical strategies were used by mothers to maintain their bond with their infant following diagnosis and during hospitalisation. These included being close to their infant and taking over caregiving duties from the nurses. Mothers described strength and resilience from the experience and a process of increasingly feeling closer to their infant. Several potential research implications and clinical recommendations for healthcare professionals are suggested.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: bonding ; mother ; child ; infant ; baby ; congenital heart disease