In this prospective, critical ethnographic study using a total of 448 hours of participant observations incorporating in-depth interviews, the author explored with 12 mothers of premature babies their descriptions and interpretations of their own needs in a tertiary-level newborn nursery (NICU) and their actions to address these needs. In the NICU the mothers demonstrated a repertoire of actions to vigilantly “watch over” their premature babies, which they extended to address their own needs as well. The mothers employed these actions in such a way as to minimize the potential for diverting resources from their babies and to minimize conflict with caregivers.
Postdoctoral Fellow, Center on “Research on Vulnerable Women, Children, and Families”, School of Nursing, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA
Submitted for publication: April 1, 2001; Accepted for publication: May 7, 2001
This research was supported by grants from the National Association of Neonatal Nurses, Sigma Theta Tau, Alpha Eta Chapter, and the University of California Graduate Student Research Awards. The author gratefully acknowledges the mothers who generously shared their experiences of having a baby requiring newborn intensive care. Thanks are also extended to Michael Hurst, Terry Murray, and Juliene Lipson, RN, PhD, and the reviewers for their helpful comments.