To examine the early adaptation challenges and strengths of young mothers with preterm infants.
Naturalistic inquiry was used to obtain a subjective description of the postpartum experience of 12 adolescent Latina mothers who enrolled in an intervention study subsequent to the preterm birth of their first baby. Intervention visits with the mother and infant offered the opportunity to repeatedly observe them and discuss with the mother her views on this life transition.
Themes that emerged from discussions with the mothers were (a) devotion to the baby, (b) responsibilities, and (c) relationships. The adolescent mothers displayed devotion to their babies in their gentle touch and positive comments to and about their baby, their interest and adherence to an intervention program that promoted holding and provided information about infant development, and their advocacy with medical professionals and family members for their baby's well-being. Interdependence regarding the sharing of responsibilities to benefit the family was evident within families. Family relationships were supportive and vital to the adolescent mothers.
Latina adolescent mothers may benefit from recognizing their strengths and incorporating these strengths into the care plan for their infants. Warm, supportive relationships between the young mothers and the healthcare professional in this study resulted in the mothers considering new information addressing care of their infants, even if the information was different from their cultural mores.
Are there best practice methods of caring for adolescent mothers who are Latina? What is the influence of their culture on their needs?
Madalynn Neu is an Assistant Professor, Anschutz Medical Campus, School of Nursing, University of Colorado Denver, Aurora, CO. She can be reached via e-mail at Madalynn.Neu@UCHSC.edu
JoAnn Robinson is a Professor and Director of Early Childhood Education Training, Department of Human Development and Family Studies, University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT.
Neither author has financial arrangements with any companies.