Reviewing the experiences of maternal guilt – the "motherhood myth" influence

Constantinou, Georgia, Varela, Sharon, and Buckby, Beryl (2021) Reviewing the experiences of maternal guilt – the "motherhood myth" influence. Health Care for Women International. (In Press)

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Abstract

Maternal guilt has been a longstanding concern for mothers in the Western world. Literature around mother’s experiences of maternal guilt has allowed researchers to understand maternal guilt from a mother’s perspective. In this paper the authors aimed to systematically review this literature, to declare a more unified understanding of what the experience of maternal guilt is, from a mother’s perspective, and what role the “motherhood myth” has in maternal experiences of guilt. Our thematic analysis found the following themes relating to maternal guilt experiences: the motherhood myth, breastfeeding difficulties, essentialism/responsibility, division/depletion and connection. The motherhood myth was present in all the included articles, providing an unattainable ideal of motherhood from which mothers compare themselves and their actions to, contributing to their sense of maternal guilt. Mothers experienced many difficulties in their mothering roles, including difficulty breastfeeding, feeling a great sense of responsibility to their child, feeling divided in wanting to take time for themselves and depleted in having many tasks to complete and coping with a multitude of emotions, and feeling a profound sense of connection to their child(ren), which was experienced as both positive and negative.

Item ID: 64565
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1096-4665
Keywords: motherhood; mental health; guilt; lived experience
Copyright Information: © 2021 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC
Date Deposited: 24 Jun 2021 02:54
FoR Codes: 52 PSYCHOLOGY > 5203 Clinical and health psychology > 520302 Clinical psychology @ 40%
42 HEALTH SCIENCES > 4206 Public health > 420606 Social determinants of health @ 30%
42 HEALTH SCIENCES > 4206 Public health > 420605 Preventative health care @ 30%
SEO Codes: 20 HEALTH > 2005 Specific population health (excl. Indigenous health) > 200509 Women's and maternal health @ 80%
20 HEALTH > 2004 Public health (excl. specific population health) > 200409 Mental health @ 10%
20 HEALTH > 2004 Public health (excl. specific population health) > 200407 Health status (incl. wellbeing) @ 10%
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