The experiences of self–support in first–time mothers
A notable paucity in practice interventions and literature currently exists in regard to self-support in first-time mothers. Recent literature and practice interventions seem to focus largely on social support resources, highlighting the deficiency in the investigation of self-support in first-time mothers as an integral and holistic concept and/or focus point for intervention. Literature continues to illustrate the many challenges first-time mothers encounter and therefore this study focuses on self-support experiences of the first-time mother in relation to her environment by providing an original stance of enquiry. The investigator aimed to explore and describe the experiences of self-support in first-time mothers in the Cape Metropole. The study was conducted qualitatively and according to an Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) research design. This provided the researcher with a dual method of investigation: The first undertaking was to describe actual accounts of the participants‟ self-support experiences, while the second was to give an interpretation of these accounts which would reflect their experiences in an understandable, yet authentic manner. The meta-theoretical framework of Gestalt Therapy Theory (GTT) was applied due to its holistic and integrative nature, while the additional theoretical frameworks of Self Determination Theory (SDT) and Positive Psychology (PP) served as contributors to deepen understanding. The sample consisted of thirteen first-time mothers from moderately diverse socio-economic backgrounds. The study succeeded in giving in-depth exploratory descriptions of their self-support experiences during the first two years of motherhood. Findings displayed that the participants‟ self-support cannot be separated from their constantly shifting environments and that self-support is an integrated and dynamic process of development. Internal elements as well as environmental factors prove to disrupt this process of self-support development. Vital components for developing self-support were assuming responsibility for own well-being as a mother; as well as arriving at insight. Joy and gratefulness as experienced by the participants were proven to serve as motivators to sustain self-support. The study further exhibits that a supportive relationship is able to exist between the first-time mother‟s self-support and her environment when she is able to effectively identify, reach out and utilise social support resources available in her environment. Self-support serves as an experiential process (as an alternative to a fixed outcome) where the first-time mother is able, through experience, to mature and become more self-supportive. Findings argue that ideal self-support during novel motherhood is the capability to be in a mature interactive relationship with the environment, constantly adapting according to the organisation of the environmental field.
- Humanities