Managing the first period at home with a newborn: a grounded theory study of mothers' experiences

Esther Hjälmhult, Kirsten Lomborg

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


AIM: The article aims to present a theoretical account of mothers' first period at home with their newborn in Norway.

BACKGROUND: Mothers' well-being affects their babies and is therefore an important priority for public health. Early discharge after childbirth is common in many countries. In Norway, this has been practised for 5-10 years but without any distinct agreement between maternity hospitals and the community health services and without documented follow-up care. Knowledge is lacking in how mothers deal with the first period at home with the baby.

METHOD: Seven focus group discussions were conducted with 26 mothers who had babies 1.5-3 months old. The grounded theory method was used to gather and analyse data.

RESULTS: The mothers were strongly concerned about preserving their control and integrity in the new situation. This main concern was resolved by the strategy of prioritizing newborn care. The strategy encompassed a process of developing competence as a mother, changing focus in relationships, stretching to the critical level and seeking recognition. These parallel processes were inter-related, sometimes mutually supportive and sometimes conflicting. When conflicts occurred, prioritizing newborn care guided mothers in finding solutions. Breaches of the implied conditions in health care tended to increase mothers' level of strain and uncertainty and to influence their efficacy in breastfeeding the baby.

CONCLUSION: Being a mother to a newborn is a dynamic and extensive process. Succeeding in breastfeeding seems especially sensitive and essential in motherhood. The idea that giving birth is a simple and normal situation may obscure the importance of seamless health care and the need for professional support and information.

Original languageEnglish
JournalScandinavian Journal of Caring Sciences
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)654-662
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Norway
  • adult
  • breast feeding
  • female
  • focus groups
  • humans
  • infant
  • infant, newborn
  • journal article
  • models, theoretical
  • mothers
  • parenting
  • postpartum period
  • self efficacy
  • young adult


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