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A comparison of mothers' and fathers' experiences of the attachment process in a neonatal intensive care unit.
J Clin Nurs. 2008 Mar; 17(6):810-6.JC

Abstract

AIM

To compare mothers' and fathers' individual views and experiences of the attachment process in a neonatal intensive care unit within the first week after a premature birth.

BACKGROUND

The attachment between parents and children is a precursor to the consolidation of parenting skills, the growth and development of the infant and the establishment of a bond between parent and child. Premature birth and the resultant hospitalization disrupt the normal attachment process between parent and child. Most of the literature on attachment theory focuses on the mother-child connection and is being criticised for regarding the father's role as supportive and peripheral.

METHODS

The design of this study was descriptive with a hermeneutic approach. Twelve parents (six mothers and six fathers) in a 13-bed neonatal intensive care unit in a Norwegian regional hospital participated in a field study addressing the encounter between parents and nurses. This paper is based on the semi-structured interviews with the parents at discharge.

RESULTS

The interview analysis revealed two main categories. (a) Taken by surprise: For mothers, the premature birth created a feeling of powerlessness and they experienced the immediate postnatal period as surreal and strange. The fathers experienced the birth as a shock, but were ready to be involved immediately. (b) Building a relationship: Mothers experienced a need to regain the temporarily lost relationship with their child, whereas the fathers experienced the beginning of a new relationship.

CONCLUSION

Comparing parents' experiences of the attachment process within the first days after a premature birth reveals a striking contrast between the mother's experience of surrealism and the father's ability to be involved immediately after birth. Relevance to clinical practice. Parents' of premature children's different starting points should be acknowledged as professionals encourage parents to have early skin-to-skin contact with their premature infant.

Authors+Show Affiliations

Faculty of Health and Sports, University of Agder, Norway. liv.fegran@hia.noNo affiliation info availableNo affiliation info available

Pub Type(s)

Comparative Study
Journal Article

Language

eng

PubMed ID

18279284

Citation

Fegran, Liv, et al. "A Comparison of Mothers' and Fathers' Experiences of the Attachment Process in a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit." Journal of Clinical Nursing, vol. 17, no. 6, 2008, pp. 810-6.
Fegran L, Helseth S, Fagermoen MS. A comparison of mothers' and fathers' experiences of the attachment process in a neonatal intensive care unit. J Clin Nurs. 2008;17(6):810-6.
Fegran, L., Helseth, S., & Fagermoen, M. S. (2008). A comparison of mothers' and fathers' experiences of the attachment process in a neonatal intensive care unit. Journal of Clinical Nursing, 17(6), 810-6. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2702.2007.02125.x
Fegran L, Helseth S, Fagermoen MS. A Comparison of Mothers' and Fathers' Experiences of the Attachment Process in a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. J Clin Nurs. 2008;17(6):810-6. PubMed PMID: 18279284.
* Article titles in AMA citation format should be in sentence-case
TY - JOUR T1 - A comparison of mothers' and fathers' experiences of the attachment process in a neonatal intensive care unit. AU - Fegran,Liv, AU - Helseth,Sølvi, AU - Fagermoen,May Solveig, PY - 2008/2/19/pubmed PY - 2008/4/30/medline PY - 2008/2/19/entrez SP - 810 EP - 6 JF - Journal of clinical nursing JO - J Clin Nurs VL - 17 IS - 6 N2 - AIM: To compare mothers' and fathers' individual views and experiences of the attachment process in a neonatal intensive care unit within the first week after a premature birth. BACKGROUND: The attachment between parents and children is a precursor to the consolidation of parenting skills, the growth and development of the infant and the establishment of a bond between parent and child. Premature birth and the resultant hospitalization disrupt the normal attachment process between parent and child. Most of the literature on attachment theory focuses on the mother-child connection and is being criticised for regarding the father's role as supportive and peripheral. METHODS: The design of this study was descriptive with a hermeneutic approach. Twelve parents (six mothers and six fathers) in a 13-bed neonatal intensive care unit in a Norwegian regional hospital participated in a field study addressing the encounter between parents and nurses. This paper is based on the semi-structured interviews with the parents at discharge. RESULTS: The interview analysis revealed two main categories. (a) Taken by surprise: For mothers, the premature birth created a feeling of powerlessness and they experienced the immediate postnatal period as surreal and strange. The fathers experienced the birth as a shock, but were ready to be involved immediately. (b) Building a relationship: Mothers experienced a need to regain the temporarily lost relationship with their child, whereas the fathers experienced the beginning of a new relationship. CONCLUSION: Comparing parents' experiences of the attachment process within the first days after a premature birth reveals a striking contrast between the mother's experience of surrealism and the father's ability to be involved immediately after birth. Relevance to clinical practice. Parents' of premature children's different starting points should be acknowledged as professionals encourage parents to have early skin-to-skin contact with their premature infant. SN - 0962-1067 UR - https://www.unboundmedicine.com/medline/citation/18279284/A_comparison_of_mothers'_and_fathers'_experiences_of_the_attachment_process_in_a_neonatal_intensive_care_unit_ L2 - https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2702.2007.02125.x DB - PRIME DP - Unbound Medicine ER -