Maternal Role & High-Risk Pregnancy Experience with Antepartum Hospitalization

Stephanie E Meyers, The University of Texas School of Nursing at Houston


Purpose. The focus of maternal role development, historically, has been on the tasks and processes during pregnancy as they relate to postpartum role transition. The purpose of this study was to investigate how women hospitalized with high-risk pregnancy cognitively construct pregnancy and impending motherhood. Design. The study employed a triangulation design using a convergence model with a dominant focused ethnographic approach. Setting. The antepartum units of two tertiary care centers in a large metropolitan city in southeast Texas. Sample. Data saturation was determined with thirteen (13) primigravid women who had been hospitalized more than 72 hours with preterm labor (PTL) or preterm premature rupture of membranes (PPROM) who subsequently delivered seventeen (17) infants which included 4 sets of twins. Methods. Open-ended, semi-structured interviews and field work were used to explore the development of maternal role in this population. After collecting descriptive data, long individual interviews were conducted and the Prenatal Self Evaluation Questionnaire (PSEQ), an instrument to measure prenatal adaptation to pregnancy, was administered. The interview focused on exploring the woman's experiences of pregnancy and impending motherhood while hospitalized. Interview data and field notes were coded and analyzed using qualitative thematic analytic techniques. The PSEQ was scored and the findings of the qualitative data and PSEQ data were compared. Findings. Thematic analysis of the qualitative data provided an understanding of the cognitive process that occurs as the pregnant woman builds a relationship with the fetus. Thematic analysis resulted in a conceptual model with two complementary components that occur throughout the pregnancy: Establishing a Relationship and Dynamic Equilibrium. Establishing a Relationship includes subthemes of: Courting, Building a Connection, and Engagement. Dynamic equilibrium is the balance between expectations and reality and exists regardless of pregnancy complications. The negotiation of this potential imbalance is triggered by uncertainty, loss of autonomy and control, and isolation and is exacerbated by the high-risk pregnancy and subsequent hospitalization. These triggers can serve as obstacles to maternal role development, but may be mediated by external support from friends and family or health care providers. Support from others may come in the form of anticipatory guidance, presence, or activities that promote self-agency. PSEQ scores were similar to previous reports, but due to the small sample, scores were used primarily for comparison to qualitative data. The qualitative findings were congruent with the PSEQ findings in all of the subscales except in the concern for the well-being of the baby. Interview reports included comments demonstrating significant concern for the well-being of the infant, yet the related subscale did not demonstrate such concern. Conclusions. An understanding of the cognitive process involved in establishing a relationship with the developing fetus related to impending motherhood and the importance of dynamic equilibrium can allow healthcare providers and those who interact with pregnant women to support development of the maternal role and anticipate those barriers that may impede that process. Findings from this study identify those triggers and mediators that influence development of the maternal role and suggest potential intervening strategies for those involved in the care of childbearing families.

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Recommended Citation

Meyers, Stephanie E, "Maternal Role & High-Risk Pregnancy Experience with Antepartum Hospitalization" (2010). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI3445861.