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Mothers' Understanding of Their Infants in the Context of an Internal Working Model of Caregiving

Limbo, Rana PhD, APRN, BC; Pridham, Karen PhD, RN, FAAN

doi: 10.1097/01.ANS.0000271104.34420.b6

Exploration of mothers' understanding of their infants was guided by the concept of internal working model of caregiving, which includes relationship-relevant expectations and intentions. Twenty-nine mothers of healthy, term infants participated in semistructured interviews concerning actual and hypothetical caregiving episodes. Expectations and intentions were each rated with an ordinal rating (1–6) that qualified adaptiveness or attunement. On average, mothers viewed their infants as having their own agendas and intended to accommodate them within limits. Further specification of expectations and intentions and exploration of conditions that contribute to ordinal types could help researchers and clinicians tailor interventions supportive of maternal development.

University of Wisconsin–Madison School of Nursing Western Campus (Dr Limbo), La Crosse, and the Department of Family Medicine, University of Wisconsin–Madison School of Nursing (Dr Pridham), Madison. Dr Limbo is now with the Gundersen Lutheran Medical Foundation, La Crosse, Wis.

Corresponding author: Rana Limbo, PhD, APRN, BC, Gundersen Lutheran Medical Foundation, 1900 South Ave, Mail Stop ALEX, La Crosse, WI 54601 (e-mail:

We extend special thanks to the mothers who participated in this study, Drs Michele Schroeder and Suzanne Thoyre for their assistance with data analysis, Drs Sandra Underwood and Inge Bretherton for their consultation, Janet Kane for consultation with statistical analysis, Cathy Mikkelson Fischer for her editing, Marie Walter for manuscript review, and the University of Wisconsin–Madison School of Nursing for funding.

© 2007 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.