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Date of Award

7-26-2002

Degree Type

Dissertation (On-Campus Access Only)

Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)

Committee Chair

Paula Truax, PhD

Second Advisor

Maryka Biaggio, PhD

Abstract

This study is a primarily qualitative investigation of women's experiences in the first 4-6 weeks after the birth of their first child. Eight women were given a pre and post-test measure of quality of life and a demographics questionnaire. They were interviewed and the themes from these interviews were analyzed. Seven themes emerged: 1) no longer being an independent agent; dealing with the daily demands; having little time to get things done; 2) the issue of career; 3) the new role of being a parent: feeling amazed; 4) relationship with husband; 5) relationships with friends and family; 6) dealing with difficulties and problems (worries about baby's functioning; physical changes in mother; feeling overwhelmed and emotional); and 7) labor/pregnancy. Information from this study about women's narratives and self-described experiences is an addition to the existing literature as there are few qualitative studies in the area of maternal adjustment. This study contributes to the literature because it addresses women's experiences in the early postpartum weeks as they are transitioning to the new role of mother. Most of the studies in the literature do not focus on this time frame. Many positive aspects about the experience of being a new mother were revealed in this study, and this is not often the case in the studies that were found in the literature review. This information can serve as a resource for women and can assist providers in better supporting women who are going through this transition. Suggestions for future research are outlined.

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