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The role of maternal self-care in new motherhood

The role of maternal self-care in new motherhood

JL Barkin, KL Wisner - Midwifery, 2013 - Elsevier


to examine the following: (1) women's perceptions regarding the role of maternal self-care, (2) specific applications of self-care in new motherhood and (3) barriers to practising effective self-care.


three focus groups were conducted in order to study women's perspectives regarding the key components of new motherhood.


recruitment took place in Allegheny County, surrounding Pittsburgh. The focus groups were held at the University of Pittsburgh's Medical School.


thirty-one adult women who had given birth in the year prior to enrollment participated in the study.


the focus group conversations were recorded and transcribed for purposes of qualitative analysis. Conversation related to maternal self-care, which was identified as a component of new motherhood, was grouped into one of three categories: (1) women's valuations of self-care, (2) effective applications of self-care and (3) barriers to good self-care practice.


two ideologies regarding the role of self-care emerged. In one conception of effective mothering, self-care was of primary importance. On the contrary, some women associated a sometimes extreme form of self-sacrifice with new motherhood. Effective applications of self-care included taking time to exercise, allowing the infant's father to care for the child for a period of time and going out to restaurants. Barriers to good self-care practice were time, other limited resources such as money and social support and difficulty accepting help and setting boundaries.

Key conclusions

additional focus groups should be conducted with the purpose of studying maternal self-care exclusively. This work is an important first step in identifying ways to help new mothers better care for themselves.