A study to explore mothers' and fathers' shared and individual experiences of premature birth : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Science in Psychology at Massey University, Albany, New Zealand

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Massey University
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This qualitative research project using some of the methodologies of Grounded Theory looked at five couples' experiences of premature birth, in particular comparing and contrasting the experiences of mothers and fathers. Significant themes that were identified were: helplessness, related to parents' belief that they were unable to alter outcomes for their baby; issues of control around the care of the newborn baby; communication and relationships with healthcare staff and the impact on parents' perceptions of inclusiveness in the care of their infants; and for fathers in particular, feeling that they missed out on aspects of the parenting of their newborn. The conclusions were that, due to a number of factors within the NICU environment in conjunction with gender specific methods of coping, fathers tend to be marginalised and excluded from the care of their babies. As a result of this, fathers then distance themselves from contact with their newborns, leading to the cyclic exacerbation of the issues of control and helplessness, which further reinforces their disengagement from the situation. Mothers struggled with the same issues, but not to the extent that they withdrew emotionally and physically from the care of their babies.
New Zealand Family relationships, Premature infants, Mothers Attitudes, Fathers Attitudes