Becoming a mother: a study exploring occupational change in first-time motherhood

Horne, Jane; Corr, Susan and Earle, Sarah (2005). Becoming a mother: a study exploring occupational change in first-time motherhood. Journal of Occupational Science, 12(3) pp. 176–183.



Having a first baby is considered a major life event, due to significant role change impacting on the ordinary and familiar activities the new mother performs every day. The aim of this study was to explore changes in the occupational lives of first time mothers. A concurrent nested strategy of enquiry was used. Quantitative data via the Modified Interest Checklist and the Role Checklist was nested within the predominantly qualitative data collection in the form of semi-structured interviews. Six first time mothers, who were two and a half years post motherhood and aged between 28 and 42 years, participated in this study. The findings indicate that 'new mothers' engaging in a balanced lifestyle pre-motherhood in the areas of self-care, leisure, productivity and rest experience a period of occupational disruption and occupational imbalance before adapting into motherhood through activities, tasks and finally occupations. These mothers' occupational lives are productivity dominant with most of their time being spent in paid employment and/or performing homecare/family care activities. Their occupational lives are also obligatory dominant, for example, they are performing activities they need to do to enable them to fulfil their role as mother, as opposed to activities they choose to do. Also evident is a daily process of change as individuals adapt into motherhood.

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