Struggling to Mother: A Consequence of Inhibitive Nursing Interactions in the Neonatal Nursery

Document Type

Journal Article


Faculty of Computing, Health and Science


School of Nursing and Public Health




Fenwick, J., Barclay, L., & Schmied, V. (2001). Struggling to mother: a consequence of inhibitive nursing interactions in the neonatal nursery. The Journal of perinatal & neonatal nursing, 15(2), 49-64. Available here


This paper reports on one aspect of a grounded theory study of women's experiences of mothering in the nursery. Over 60 hours of interview data with 28 Australian women were analyzed. The analysis revealed that mothering in the nursery was a three-way interaction. “Struggling to mother” was the label given to the major category that represented how women responded to unsatisfactory nursing encounters. The findings illuminate how inhibitive nursing interactions relegate women to the periphery of care and engender an array of negative emotional responses that leave women feeling inconsequential to the welfare of their infant. Ultimately this has implications for how women take up their role as mothers in the nursery and for their sense of confidence, competence, and connection with their infant