Date of Award

2015

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts (Psychology) Honours

School

School of Psychology and Social Science

Faculty

Faculty of Education and Arts

First Advisor

Dr Eyal Gringart

Abstract

The lived experience of mothers with multiple sclerosis (MS) who have young children was explored. Using purposive sampling, 10 mothers with MS each participated in an in-depth semi-structured interview. The participants varied in demographics and had varying symptoms of MS. Interpretative phenomenological analysis identified four major themes. These themes are: changing life perspective; balancing life with MS; having children; and peer contact. The participants went through a period of avoidance before accepting life with MS and changing their life perspective. Adequately balancing life with MS, by conserving energy and having support networks, was essential to maintaining their well-being. The partners of the participants were the main support providers, although other people stepped in when the partner could not cope. The relationship between the participants and their partners either strengthened or weakened following the diagnosis of MS. Albeit having MS, the participants elected to have children. Having young children was physically taxing, yet very rewarding. Peer contact assisted the participants with a sense of belonging, which indicated the importance of having a wide variety of available peer support programs to assist mothers with MS. The current research provided insight into how such women can be assisted in their pursuit to live contently and mother despite MS. Insight into this experience can also provide increased understanding to the social network of such mothers, which could enhance the quality of interpersonal relationships and stimulate people to provide more support to such mothers. Future research directions are discussed.

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