caregiving, infants, internal working model, mother-infant relationship, mothers, narrative analysis, primary health care, qualitative, understanding



  1. Limbo, Rana PhD, APRN, BC
  2. Pridham, Karen PhD, RN, FAAN


Exploration of mothers' understanding of their infants was guided by the concept of internal working model of caregiving, which includes relationship-relevant expectations and intentions. Twenty-nine mothers of healthy, term infants participated in semistructured interviews concerning actual and hypothetical caregiving episodes. Expectations and intentions were each rated with an ordinal rating (1-6) that qualified adaptiveness or attunement. On average, mothers viewed their infants as having their own agendas and intended to accommodate them within limits. Further specification of expectations and intentions and exploration of conditions that contribute to ordinal types could help researchers and clinicians tailor interventions supportive of maternal development.