Lived Experience of First Time Mothers: Role of Social Support During the Early Postpartum Period
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This thesis is a qualitative study that gathers the lived experiences of first time mothers during the first three months postpartum. This study examines how these women view the role of social support in relation to this experience. There is an assumption that the first three months of an infant’s life can be particularly challenging and can bring up feelings of vulnerability for mothers. The working hypothesis of this research presupposes that availability of sufficient social support will lead to better early postpartum experiences for new mothers. Research is conducted through the facilitation of two focus groups. Seven first time mothers participated by sharing their stories of this time. From the analysis, seven major themes are identified: sleep difficulties; physical pain; anxieties about body image; feeling overwhelmed; isolation; bonding issues; feelings of guilt and shame. Four types of social support are discussed among participants: emotional support; instrumental support; informational support; and anti-support. These themes are examined in relation to the literature. Findings of the research strengthen the argument that more attention is needed towards providing support to postpartum mothers. However, a more nuanced and complex relationship between social support and the postpartum period is uncovered. Results encourage further research into the type and quality of support for mothers in this vulnerable period.