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Working First Time Mothers' Infant Care Selection and Transition Back to Work: A Prospective Study

Melike Sayıl, Ayşen Güre, Zehra Uçanok, Elizabeth Puhn Pungello
2009; 24(64):01-15

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The aim of this study was to examine the infuences of mothers’ demographic characteristics, environmental constraints and maternal beliefs on mothers’ time to return to work and infant care decisions in a prospective model (Pungello & Kurtz-Costes, 1999). A total of 200 pregnant women participated in this study. Women were included who were married, pregnant with a frst child, working full time and over the age of 20 years. The participants were recruited from university hospitals and birth clinics in Ankara. Participants were interviewed on the average at 6th months of pregnancy and at 6th months after the birth. Each interview included structured items to measure relevant variables and lasted approximately 40-50 minutes. Model testing results revealed that maternal demographics (maternal age, education and income) were related with maternal beliefs towards mothers’ working and maternal care. Environmental constraints (work schedule and long-term career goal fexibility) were related with maternal plans about the time to return to work. Duration of returning to work was related with prenatal maternal plans. Mothers who chose maternal care had more fexibility to reach their career goals, and mothers who chose relative care reported their available child care options to be of higher quality than other mother. Mothers also changed their maternal beliefs and care preferences between the prenatal to postnatal interviews, but these changes were not signifcantly related to their care choices. The uncontrollable environmental constraint (i.e., needing to work for the income) did not moderate the association between mothers’ preference and selection.

Keywords: First time mothers, transition to motherhood, childcare, infants, maternal leave