Motherhood transition through an existential lens - meaning-making among Danish first time mothers
Motherhood transition is a significant life event. Research from various disciplines outlines pregnancy, birth and the initial period of motherhood as a period of life in which a woman might experience disruption and gain new perspectives in a bodily, psychological, social and existential way. This may be even more relevant for women giving birth preterm, since research suggests that mothers of premature babies undergo an experience of loss, crisis and unpredictability. This project aimed to identify whether motherhood transition actualises considerations on how to make meaning of life existentially among Danish first-time mothers, and whether they differ among mothers of full-term children (FT) and mothers of preterm children (PT).
This project aimed to identify whether motherhood transition actualises considerations on how to make meaning of life existentially among Danish first-time mothers, and whether they differ among mothers of full-term children (FT) and mothers of preterm children (PT). We explored this new field of research based on data in a cross-sectional survey among Danish first-time mothers, who gave birth in 2010. Empirical data were gathered over a 4-month period in the autumn 2011.
Description of the cohort
We obtained a sample from the Danish Medical Birth Registry of all Danish first-time mothers who gave birth before the 32nd week of gestation in 2010, and a random sample of twice the number of first-time mothers who gave birth at term (over GA 37+0). The group of PT mothers included both very preterm children (before 32 completed weeks of gestation) and extremely preterm children (before 28 completed weeks of gestation).
Data and biological material
The first sample consisted of 1291 first-time mothers. The sample was based on the birth of the children with 455 children born prematurely and 910 children born at full term. Due to for example address or research protection status the final file consisted of 913 first-time mothers: 658 FT mothers (accounting for 72% of the total sample) and 258 PT mothers (28% of the total sample).
On the basis of a national questionnaire survey regarding existential meaning-making, consisting of 165 items in 46 topic items, we gathered data from 57% of the sample. We found no statistically significant differences between respondents and non-respondents related to cohabiting status, mode of birth (caesarean section versus vaginal birth), neonatal outcome (perinatal or postpartum loss) or time of birth (preterm versus full-term birth). We found statistically significant differences related to age, respondents being on average 1.7 years older than non-respondents. Also statistically significantly more respondents (82%) than non-respondents (72%) were members of the Danish National Church. See p-values and tables in the individual papers. There were no geographical differences in response rate measured on the five Danish Regions.
Collaborating researchers and departments
Institute of Clinical Research, University of Southern Denmark and University College South Denmark
- Christina Prinds, RM, Can.Scient.San. PhD
Research Unit of General Practice and Institute of Public Health, University of Southern Denmark
- Niels Christian Hvidt, ThD
Institute of Clinical Research, University of Southern Denmark
- Head of studies Dorte Hvidtjørn, MSc, RM, MPH, PhD
Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Bio-demography, Institute of Public Health, University of Southern Denmark
- Senior data analyst Axel Skytthe, MSc, PhD
Institute of Clinical Research, University of Southern Denmark and Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology, Odense University Hospital
- Professor and Chief Physician Ole Mogensen, DMSci
- Senior data analyst Chunsen Wu, PhD
Faculty of Health Scienes, University of Southern Denmark
- Student at the master's program in midwifery Line Bruun Hansen (MSc of Midwifery)
- Student at the master's program in midwifery Katrine Ernst Mortensen (MSc of Midwifery)
Publications associated with the project
Existential meaning among first-time full-term and preterm mothers: A questionnaire study. / Prinds, C. Hvidtjørn, D. Mogensen, O. Skytthe, A. Hvidt, NC. Journal of Perinatal and Neonatal Nursing 2014, 28(4): 271-279
Prayer and meditation among Danish first time mothers - a questionnaire study. / Prinds, C. Hvidtjørn, D. Mogensen, O. Skytthe, A. Hvidt, NC. BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth (2016) 16:8 DOI 10.1186/s12884-016-0802-6