Research indicates that childbirth is a time when a woman might experience existential disruptions and gain new perspectives on life. The 2-fold aim of this study was to investigate whether attitudes related to existential meaning among first-time mothers intensify and whether they differ between mothers who gave birth at full term and those who gave birth preterm. All first-time mothers who gave birth in Denmark in 2010 before the 32nd week of pregnancy and twice that number of full-term mothers (randomly sampled) were invited to participate in a national cross-sectional survey. Five core items concerning meaning in life, vulnerability of life, responsibility, thoughts about life and death, and "something bigger than oneself" were analyzed to compare mothers' attitudes on existential meaning. The overall response rate was 57% (517/913). Contrary to the hypothesis, attitudes related to existential meaning intensified to the same degree among mothers of full-term and preterm infants, with no statistically significant differences in terms of age, marital status, educational level, or birth method. Danish first-time mothers' attitudes related to existential meaning measured in 5 core items were intensified and almost similar, regardless of whether they gave birth full-term or preterm.
Journal of Perinatal and Neonatal Nursing, 2014, Vol 28, Issue 4, p. 271-279