Aim: The aim of this study was to explore Chinese women's perceptions of maternal role competence and factors contributing to maternal role competence during early motherhood.
Background: Developing a sense of competence and satisfaction in the maternal role are considered critical components in maternal adaptation, which have a significant impact on parenting behaviours and the psychosocial development of the child. However, qualitative studies that address maternal role competence are limited in the Chinese population.
Design: This was an exploratory descriptive study.
Method: A purposive sample of 26 Chinese primiparous mothers participated in a childbirth psychoeducation programme and was interviewed at six weeks postpartum. Data were analysed using content analysis.
Results: Women perceived a competent mother as being able to make a commitment to caring for the physical and emotional well-being of child, while cultivating appropriate values for childhood. Personal knowledge and experience of infant care, success in breastfeeding, infant's well-being, availability of social support and contradictory information from various sources were major factors affecting maternal role competency.
Conclusion: The findings highlight the importance of understanding Chinese cultural attitudes to childrearing and maternal role competence. New Chinese mothers need information on child care, positive experiences of infant care, social support and consistent information to enhance their maternal role competency. Recommendations are made for Chinese culturally specific guidelines and healthcare delivery interventions to enhance maternal role competence in early motherhood.
Relevance to clinical practice: Nursing and midwifery care should always take into account the cultural beliefs and enable adaptation of traditional postpartum practices. Providing consistent information and positive experience on parenting skills and infant behaviour as well as enhancing effective coping strategies could strengthen Chinese women's maternal role competency.
© 2011 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.