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extremely low birth-weight infants, interpretive phenomenology, mothering, mother-infant relationship, NICU



  1. Schenk, Laura K. PhD, RN, NNP-BC
  2. Kelley, Jane H. PhD, RN


Mothers of preterm infants are reported to experience heightened levels of psychological stress, greater than mothers of full-term infants during the neonatal period. The purpose of this study is to describe the lived experience of what it is like to be a mother of an extremely low birth-weight infant during their stay with their infants in the NICU. Interpretive phenomenology articulated by Benner and Diekelmann is the method of qualitative research employed. Thematic analysis is the method of narrative analysis that is used to capture and describe the lived experience with emerging themes, patterns, and meanings. Participants were chosen by purposive sampling. Sample size was 9 participants. Repeated interviews of the participants were done to obtain "redundancy, clarity, and confidence" in the interpreted text. Understanding the themes offers guidance for future research and future programs to aid in the development of meaningful healthy mother-infant relationships and helpful relationships of and with NICU structure and staff.