Couples' co-construction of their experiences of the transition to parenthood

Prof Doc Thesis

Bowen, Rebecca 2010. Couples' co-construction of their experiences of the transition to parenthood. Prof Doc Thesis University of East London School of Psychology
AuthorsBowen, Rebecca
TypeProf Doc Thesis

The literature relating to the transition to parenthood prioritises mothers'
experiences over fathers'. This study recognises that most children in the
UK are born into two-parent families, and that research needs to
acknowledge the changing family structure, where more mothers are
returning to the workplace, and more fathers are sharing childrearing
responsibilities. This study therefore places the couple at the centre of the
research. This study also aims to develop a deeper understanding of the
more normative experiences of parenting, which are usually overlooked in
the literature in favour of predicting risk factors and mediators of pathological
experiences. Joint interviews were conducted with the mother and father of
a child under one year's old. All participants were first time parents.
Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis was used to gain an understanding
of the couple's experiences of the transition to parenthood, as well as the
meanings that these parents attribute to their experiences. Six couples were
interviewed in order to gather detailed descriptions of the particular
experience. Five themes were identified from the interviews. In brief,
parents described the experience as a life changing process, with
'togetherness' within the couple being an important feature. Some parents
felt unprepared and overwhelmed when the baby arrived because they were
unable to comprehend the changes until they experienced parenthood. They
described parenthood as being overarchingly positive, with a range of
negative emotions interspersed. Contextual factors were very important
during the transition process. Health and community resources were
considered essential in the absence of 'hands on' extended family support.
These issues have important implications for parent-infant primary care
services, in particular the role of the health visitor in building on 'listening
visits' to support parents through the transition.

Publication dates
PrintAug 2010
Publication process dates
Deposited10 Jun 2014
Additional information

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