Original Research

A life uncertain – My baby’s vulnerability: Mothers’ lived experience of connection with their preterm infants in a Botswana neonatal intensive care unit

Rosinah K. Ncube, Hilary Barlow, Pat M. Mayers
Curationis | Vol 39, No 1 | a1575 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/curationis.v39i1.1575 | © 2016 Rosinah K. Ncube, Hilary Barlow, Pat M. Mayers | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 01 June 2015 | Published: 30 August 2016

About the author(s)

Rosinah K. Ncube, Division of Nursing and Midwifery, University of Cape Town, South Africa
Hilary Barlow, Division of Nursing and Midwifery, University of Cape Town, South Africa, Midwifery at Bamalete Lutheran School of Nursing, Oodi, Botswana
Pat M. Mayers, Division of Nursing and Midwifery, University of Cape Town, South Africa

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Background: Preterm and low–birth weight infants are often separated from their mothers when admitted to neonatal units for stabilisation of body temperature and technological support.
Objectives: The aim of the study was to explore and describe the lived experiences of mothers regarding care of their hospitalised preterm infants in a neonatal unit in a public hospital in Gaborone, Botswana.
Method: This study utilised a qualitative exploratory and descriptive phenomenological study design. Mothers of hospitalised preterm infants were purposefully selected, with whom there was extensive engagement. Two in-depth interviews were conducted with each participant (P).
Results: Mothers were shocked by the sudden birth of a preterm infant and found the neonatal environment intimidating. This increased their fear and anxiety and delayed development of a relationship with their infants. Support from staff, other mothers in the neonatal unit and family members enabled the mothers to overcome their fear and to develop an emotional connection with their infants.
Conclusion: On-going supportive communication with the mothers by healthcare professionals promotes their confidence and competence in caring for their preterm infants, which in turn promotes mother–infant attachment.


Lived experience; mothers; care; preterm infant; neonatal unit


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Crossref Citations

1. Coping strategies of mothers with preterm babies admitted in a public hospital in Cape Town
Delphine A. Sih, Million Bimerew, Regis R.M. Modeste
Curationis  vol: 42  issue: 1  year: 2019  
doi: 10.4102/curationis.v42i1.1872