Motherhood and the absence of maternal support: an exploration amongst Asian women

Sattar-Jenkins, Anita (2019) Motherhood and the absence of maternal support: an exploration amongst Asian women. DCPsych thesis, Middlesex University / Metanoia Institute.


Aim: Only few existing studies focus on Motherhood and the absence of maternal support. This research investigated the life experiences of Asian women who had given birth to their first-born child at a time when they did not have maternal support.

Design: Baby clinics were targeted and Health Visitors selected candidates that fulfilled the criteria to participate in the research. Ten participants comprising of Asian women were recruited and participated in an interview about their experience of giving birth to their first child at a time when they were not in contact with their maternal family.

Method: Interviews were transcribed, analysed and categorised using the qualitative method of Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis (IPA). A meeting was set up for the participants to review the transcripts and the data was coded into themes.

Key findings: Results highlighted four themes which emerged that affected the wellbeing of the mother and baby. The first theme was the cultural expectation of support and these findings were of significant interest from the viewpoint of inbuilt parental relationships and the way they develop as well as the discovery of feelings of inadequacy arising because of communication difficulties. The second theme was the newness of being supported by their husband which was a new experience for them and questioned their role as a mother and their ideas about the assumed responsibilities for women in an Asian culture. The third theme was the emotional and physical impact of having a baby which was an area that appeared to be out of their awareness and came as a surprise to them in the aftermath of the baby’s arrival. The fourth theme was pre and post-natal experiences of having a baby in the NHS and this identified a number of strategic changes which could be implemented to identify women at risk due to the absence of maternal support.

Conclusion: The potential significance of my results, which considered Asian women in this context, indicates that the NHS could adopt preventative measures to ensure these women are identified as vulnerable and do not continue to fall short of maternity services. In order for professionals to ‘signpost’ their patients appropriately they need to be skilled up to understand the needs of these women. This research highlights the need for women from other cultures to be able to expect a level of understanding from Healthcare professionals in relation to their specific situations and to have an awareness of the particular difficulties that women face when they do not have maternal support.

ASattar-Jenkins thesis.pdf - Accepted Version

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