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Title: Couples' co-construction of their experiences of the transition to parenthood
Author: Bowen, Rebecca
ISNI:       0000 0004 2701 4525
Awarding Body: University of East London
Current Institution: University of East London
Date of Award: 2010
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The literature relating to the transition to parenthood prioritises mothers' experiences over fathers'. This study recognises that most children in the UK are born into two-parent families, and that research needs to acknowledge the changing family structure, where more mothers are returning to the workplace, and more fathers are sharing childrearing responsibilities. This study therefore places the couple at the centre of the research. This study also aims to develop a deeper understanding of the more normative experiences of parenting, which are usually overlooked in the literature in favour of predicting risk factors and mediators of pathological experiences. Joint interviews were conducted with the mother and father of a child under one year's old. All participants were first time parents. Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis was used to gain an understanding of the couple's experiences of the transition to parenthood, as well as the meanings that these parents attribute to their experiences. Six couples were interviewed in order to gather detailed descriptions of the particular experience. Five themes were identified from the interviews. In brief, parents described the experience as a life changing process, with 'togetherness' within the couple being an important feature. Some parents felt unprepared and overwhelmed when the baby arrived because they were unable to comprehend the changes until they experienced parenthood. They described parenthood as being overarchingly positive, with a range of negative emotions interspersed. Contextual factors were very important during the transition process. Health and community resources were considered essential in the absence of 'hands on' extended family support. These issues have important implications for parent-infant primary care services, in particular the role of the health visitor in building on 'listening visits' to support parents through the transition.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (D.Clin.Psych.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available