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  1. Cleveland, Lisa M. PhD, APRN, PNP-BC, IBCLC
  2. Bonugli, Rebecca J. PhD, RN, APRN, PMHCNS
  3. McGlothen, Kelly S. BSN, RN, IBCLC, CIMI


The aim of this qualitative study was to describe the mothering experiences of women with substance use disorders. We conducted semistructured, individual interviews with 15 mothers. Using thematic analysis, 5 themes were identified: (1) facing the reality of a pregnancy complicated by substance use, trauma, and loss, (2) finding a higher meaning, (3) dealing with the consequences, (4) managing the details of daily life, and (5) looking toward a future with my children. Moreover, the women described entering motherhood with uncertainty, fear, shame, and stress. We hope that these findings will lead to more compassionate nursing care for this population.