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Title: The transition from woman to mother : an investigation into psychological factors that impact on women's experience of first time motherhood
Author: Darvill, Ruth
ISNI:       0000 0004 2668 6450
Awarding Body: Exeter and Plymouth Peninsula Medical School
Current Institution: Exeter and Plymouth Peninsula Medical School
Date of Award: 2009
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The aim of this series of three studies was to broaden understanding of first time maternal transition from a woman's perspective. While there is an extensive body of literature on discrete aspects of childbearing such as labour or motherhood, few studies address the whole childbearing period including pregnancy, birth and new motherhood as one psychosocial process. The intention was to fill the gaps in current knowledge of first time maternal transition. Using a grounded theory approach, findings from Study 1 identified the altering self-concept as central to women's experience of becoming first time mothers. Data from Study 1 suggested transition to motherhood began in pregnancy, contrasting with many current studies that suggested transition begins after birth. A period of vulnerability during pregnancy was identified. Findings from Study 1 shaped the choice of psychosocial factors to be assessed in Study 2. A quantitative study with repeated measures was designed to answer questions about the role of self-concept within the transition. Established scales were used to measure self-concept along with a measure of coping styles, levels of depression and perceived social support once during pregnancy (baseline) and again after the birth of a first infant (follow up). Results of Study 2 confirmed changes in self-concept across the maternal transition. Women had higher levels of the identity component of self-concept after the birth than during pregnancy. More women were depressed during pregnancy than after the birth. Results confirmed findings in Study 1 of a period of vulnerability in pregnancy that may currently be unrecognised. A final study focused on the identified period of vulnerability within the maternal transition, as suggested by data in Study 1 and 2. Social support needs during this time were discussed.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available