Maternal emotional responses to preterm birth Pederson, David R

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Pederson, David R
Appears In
American Journal of Orthopsychiatry
Adjustment (to Environment); Canada; Reports, Research.
Academic; Professional
This report describes the results of three studies of Canadian mothers with preterm infants that support three conclusions about mothers' experiences of preterm birth. The first conclusion is that preterm birth is a very stressful experience, even for mothers with relatively healthy infants. Mothers' major concerns focused on their infants' survival and need for special care, and their own alienation from a sense of being a mother. The second conclusion is that the nature of the stress and the focus of worry changes with the infants' recovery and development. At five months after discharge, the only difference between preterm and full-term mothers on a mood inventory was that preterm mothers saw themselves as less clearheaded than full-term mothers. Interview and questionnaire data indicated a decrease in stress. Concerns about the infant's survival and the mother's alienation from the maternal role were no longer salient issues. There were no perceived differences between preterm and full-term mothers in the parental role as assessed on the Parenting Stress Index. The third conclusion is that the magnitude of the stresses appears to dissipate over the infant's first year. Preterm mothers in the second study were still worried about their infants' development and recognized the vulnerability of their infants, and thus the ongoing need for special care. The paper also includes discussion of the aims of the neonatal intensive care unit in which the research was conducted. Eight graphs and the maternal discharge questions are attached. (RH)
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