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Mothers of infants in neonatal nurseries had challenges in establishing feelings of being a good mother

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QUESTION: How do mothers of infants in neonatal nurseries, and the nurses caring for the infants, construct notions of motherhood?


Qualitative study.


Neonatal nurseries of 2 hospitals in New South Wales, Australia.


31 mothers of infants in neonatal nurseries (mean age 28 y, 68% first time mothers) and 20 nurses working in the nurseries.


Mothers participated in 2 loosely structured interviews, the first done just before discharge and lasting 45–90 minutes and the second done 8–12 weeks after discharge and lasting 90–120 minutes. Mothers were asked to elaborate on the kinds of things that helped them feel like a mother, and reflect on their experience in the nursery, their relationship with the nursery staff, and their feelings toward their infants. Nurses had 1 loosely structured interview lasting 30–90 minutes, which included such key questions as what are the most important things you do during a workday, and what are the biggest challenges and rewards of your work? Voice activated tape recorders were mounted on …

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  • Source of funding: National Health and Medical Research Council (Australia).

  • For correspondence: D Lupton, Charles Sturt University, Killara, New South Wales, Australia. dlupton{at}