uu.seUppsala University Publications
Change search
ReferencesLink to record
Permanent link

Direct link
"I wanted to do a good job": Experiences of 'becoming a mother' and breastfeeding in mothers of very preterm infants after discharge from a neonatal unit
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Medicine and Pharmacy, Medicinska och farmaceutiska vetenskapsområdet, centrumbildningar mm , Center for Clinical Research Dalarna. Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Medicine and Pharmacy, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Women's and Children's Health, Pediatrics.
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Medicine and Pharmacy, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Women's and Children's Health, Pediatrics.
2007 (English)In: Social Science and Medicine, ISSN 0277-9536, E-ISSN 1873-5347, Vol. 64, no 12, 2405-2416 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

In mothers of preterm infants, the process of becoming a mother is initiated in a public and medical environment, in which the mothers become dependent on the benevolence and support of the staff. This setting and an experience of insecure social bonds impair the ability to become a mother during the infant's stay at the neonatal unit (NU), and breastfeeding may become a duty and not be mutually satisfying. Studies on how women experience becoming a mother and breastfeeding after the infant's discharge are sparse and this question is addressed in the present grounded theory study. Twenty five mothers, whose very preterm infants had received care in seven NUs in Sweden, were interviewed once, 1–12 months after discharge. We propose a model to increase understanding of the process of becoming a mother and breastfeeding, after the infant's discharge from the NU. The mother's emotional expressions in this process showed pendular swings from feeling emotionally exhausted to feeling relieved, from experiencing an insecure to a secure bond, and from regarding breastfeeding as being non-reciprocal to being reciprocal. Unresolved grief, the institutional authority at the NU and experiences of shame were three of the central barriers to a secure and reciprocal relationship. The pendular changes give us a deeper understanding of the variations in both attachment and attunement. Perhaps the negative extremes are more prominent among these mothers on account of their infant's illness and their NU experiences. If our proposed model is valid, it is vital that these findings are considered by those involved in the short- and long-term care in order to support the mothers to establish a secure bond, comprising both attachment and attunement.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2007. Vol. 64, no 12, 2405-2416 p.
Keyword [en]
Mothers, Preterm infants, Breastfeeding, Becoming a mother, Neonatal unit, Sweden
National Category
Medical and Health Sciences Social Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-95917DOI: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2007.03.008ISI: 000247407600003PubMedID: 17428597OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-95917DiVA: diva2:170296
Available from: 2007-05-14 Created: 2007-05-14 Last updated: 2012-02-22Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Breastfeeding and Becoming a Mother: Influences and Experiences of Mothers of Preterm Infants
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Breastfeeding and Becoming a Mother: Influences and Experiences of Mothers of Preterm Infants
2007 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The overall aim of this thesis was to expand the knowledge and understanding of the processes of breastfeeding and becoming a mother in mothers of preterm infants.

For this purpose, in-depth interviews were conducted with 25 mothers, whose very preterm infants had received care in seven neonatal units (NU) in Sweden, 1-12 months after discharge (I-II). In addition, prospective population-based register studies were performed of infants born 1993-2001; among 35 250 term and 2093 preterm infants (III), and a subpopulation of 225 very preterm infants (IV). Data were obtained from the Child Health Service registry of breastfeeding in Uppsala and Örebro, the Medical Birth Registry, and Statistics Sweden.

The experiences of mother-infant separation, institutional authority, emotional exhaustion and disregard of breastfeeding as a relational interplay, comprised major hindrances to mothers’ experiences of breastfeeding as reciprocal and of a secure mother-infant relation, during and after the discharge from an NU (I-II). All studied socioeconomic factors, i.e. lower educational level, receiving unemployment benefit or social welfare or having a low equivalent disposable income, were individually adversely associated with breastfeeding up to six months of infants’ postnatal age, but were not found more decisive for weaning in mothers of preterm infants compared to those of term infants (III). Preterm infants were breastfed for a shorter time than term infants (III), but a long breastfeeding duration was evident. In addition, gestational age and neonatal disorders were not associated with breastfeeding duration in very preterm infants (IV).

In conclusion, this thesis shows that improvements in the NU environment and the caring paradigm are called for. Furthermore, as socioeconomic status clearly has an impact on breastfeeding duration, increased equity in health care in accordance with the individuals’ needs must be sought, where resources are allocated to ensure fulfilment of needs in more vulnerable mothers and infants.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis, 2007. 66 p.
Digital Comprehensive Summaries of Uppsala Dissertations from the Faculty of Medicine, ISSN 1651-6206 ; 262
Pediatrics, Breastfeeding, Becoming a mother, Preterm infants, Mothers, Register, Neonatal care, Neonatal unit, Socioeconomic status, Pediatrik
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-7898 (URN)978-91-554-6901-6 (ISBN)
Public defence
2007-06-05, Rudbecksalen, Rudbecklaboratoriet, Dag Hammarskjöldsväg 20, Uppsala, 13:15
Available from: 2007-05-14 Created: 2007-05-14Bibliographically approved

Open Access in DiVA

No full text

Other links

Publisher's full textPubMed

Search in DiVA

By author/editor
Flacking, Renée
By organisation
Center for Clinical Research DalarnaPediatrics
In the same journal
Social Science and Medicine
Medical and Health SciencesSocial Sciences

Search outside of DiVA

GoogleGoogle Scholar
The number of downloads is the sum of all downloads of full texts. It may include eg previous versions that are now no longer available

Altmetric score

Total: 325 hits
ReferencesLink to record
Permanent link

Direct link