Facilitating and inhibiting factors in transition to parenthood - ways in which health professionals can support parents

Scand J Caring Sci. 2017 Sep;31(3):537-546. doi: 10.1111/scs.12367. Epub 2017 Jan 31.


Background: The transition to parenthood is an overwhelming life event. From a theoretical perspective, transition to parenthood is a developmental transition that contains certain phases and patterns.

Aim: This study aim was twofold (i) discover, describe and comprehend transitional conditions that parents perceive as facilitating and inhibiting during transition to parenthood and to (ii) use that knowledge to develop recommendations for professional interventions that support and facilitate transition to parenthood.

Design: Meleis transition theory framed the study's deductive qualitative approach - from planning to analysis.

Methods: In a secondary analysis, data were analysed (as per Meleis transition theory) from two studies that implemented interviews with 60 parents in Sweden between 2013 and 2014. Interview questions dealt with parents' experiences of the transition to parenthood - in relation to experiences with parent-education groups, professional support and continuity after childbirth.

Ethical issues: A university research ethics board has approved the research.

Results: These factors facilitated transition to parenthood: perceiving parenthood as a normal part of life; enjoying the child's growth; being prepared and having knowledge; experiencing social support; receiving professional support, receiving information about resources within the health care; participating in well-functioning parent-education groups; and hearing professionals comment on gender differences as being complementary. These factors inhibited transition to parenthood: having unrealistic expectations; feeling stress and loss of control; experiencing breastfeeding demands and lack of sleep; facing a judgmental attitude about breastfeeding; being unprepared for reality; lacking information about reality; lacking professional support and information; lacking healthcare resources; participating in parent-education groups that did not function optimally; and hearing professionals accentuate gender differences in a problematic way.

Conclusion: Transition theory is appropriate for helping professionals understand and identify practices that might support parents during transition to parenthood. The study led to certain recommendations that are important for professionals to consider.

Keywords: deductive qualitative study; midwives; primary child healthcare nurses; transition to parenthood.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Adult
  • Health Personnel*
  • Humans
  • Parents*
  • Sweden