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Transition to motherhood


Life consists of transitions that are integral to an individual’s physical, psychological, social, emotional and cognitive development. Becoming a mother can, like any other life transition, be infused with feelings and emotions spanning the spectrum from happiness and contentment to despondency. Theories explaining the transition to motherhood, developed in the last century and early in this century explain how the transition, perceived by some to be a rite of passage, may have a significant impact on mothers and the self.

Learning aims and objectives

This resource aims to provide student and qualified midwives with an understanding of the theorisation of transition to motherhood in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. It illustrates how the transition is accompanied by a range of emotions and, more importantly, that the process involved in the transition is unique to each woman. Awareness of such theories will inform a) the midwife-woman relationship and interactions during pregnancy, childbirth and early motherhood, and b) the assessment conducted by the midwife on the mother and baby during the postnatal period. The information reiterates the importance of conducting a systematic assessment of the mother so as to assess and evaluate the physical, emotional, psychological, social and cognitive adjustments accompanying motherhood.

On completion of this resource midwives and student midwives should have an awareness of how the transition to motherhood:

  • Has been theorised and presented in the late 20th and early part of 21st centuries
  • Is complicated by a gammut of emotions and feelings
  • Has a significant impact on the woman
  • Is unique to each individual woman

Keywords and linking topics

Motherhood, postnatal care, transition, mothering, becoming a mother, mother, life event, adjustment, coping

Activities and questions at the end of this resource will enable you to assess your knowledge and reflect on how you can incorporate it into your own practice. In the following questions, please select the answer that you believe to be correct. This will be marked and then you can move on to the next question. If you wish, at the end you can return for a further attempt at the questions.

Upon completion of the module, you will be able to download and save or print a certificate to include in your CPD/ revalidation portfolio.