Theory of Maternal Role Attainment Research Paper

Maternal role attainment refers to the developmental and interactional process that takes place over a given period of time in a womans life. During this time, the mother of a given child attached to her baby attains a state of competence in performing the maternal roles to the infant and shows gratification and pleasure in performing her duties. This process ensures the mother experiences total harmony and develops competence and confidence in carrying out her maternal duties. This is a state referred to as maternal identity. This essay will give a detailed description of the Romana T. Mercer theory and its subsequent application in nursing practice.

The process of becoming a mother is extensive and requires thorough social, psychological, and physical work. During this transition, a woman normally experiences elevated vulnerability and encounters multiple challenges (Mercer 2006). As healthcare workers, nurses have an exemplary opportunity to help these women learn their maternal skills, develop the required confidence, and realize personal growth as they take over their maternal identity. For nurses to effectively perform this duty, they need a thorough understanding of what happens during the particular stages of pregnancy and motherhood (Fenwick, Barclay & Schmeid, 2001). One of the phenomena that best explains this transition is the Romana T. Mercer theory of maternal role attainment.

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The Theory
This theory was coined to help nurses gain knowledge on what to do to assist mothers in developing maternal identity. This theory is applicable throughout the entire duration of pregnancy and during postnatal care. However, it is also very useful to foster mothers, or those who need to perform maternal duties unexpectedly (Warren, 2005). The process that occurs in this model enables the mother to establish a strong attachment to the infant, who also bonds with the mother. Eventually, a is developed as the child grows (Mercer, 2004).

The theory uses the notion of a process that involves interaction and development between the mother and the baby for a span of time. Maternal identity is achieved after a process of acquisition that involves four main stages. These stages include the anticipatory, formal, informal, and personal phases. The mother adapts both sociologically and psychologically, as a part of the first phase of anticipation. It may entail maternal fantasies about the duties or learning about the expectations of a mother (Mercer, 2004).

The formal phase sets in at birth, when the the duties of a mother in nursing the infant. During this phase, the behavior of the mother is determined by the mothers social networks and systems and by taking into account advice from other persons in order to make meaningful decisions. With time, the mother will establish her own ways of mothering the infant, irrespective of the , which characterize the informal phase. At this stage, the mother discovers what is best for herself and her child. The final phase is characterized by the mother feeling joy about her role as a mother. At this point, the mother is fully confident of her motherhood skills as she has established a flawless and strong bond with the baby. On some special occasions, the mother may find herself in a state of anticipation for another child (Mercer, 2004).

Application of the Theory in Nursing Practice, Particularly in a Rehabilitation Setup
Nurses have a vital role to play in the entire process in helping the mother to attain maternal identity. At the anticipatory phase, nurses can shape the fantasies of the mother by explaining to the mother what is expected of her. Rather than fantasizing over what she does not know, the mother will be fully aware of the actual duties expected of her after delivery. The formal stage is where the nurse is highly influential and helpful for the mother. Rather than allowing the mother to be misguided, nurses can provide essential and scientifically proven advice to the mother on how best to take care of the child. Eventually, the mother will discover what works best for her child which automatically translates into a state of confidence, harmony, and competence in undertaking her maternal duties.

Rehabilitation centers either for children who have lost their parents or for those with chronic conditions serve as the perfect environment where nurses can apply the concepts of this theory because nurses act as foster mothers to these children. As provided by this theory, the nurses will be required to make initial decisions in caring for the child, depending on the circumstances surrounding them, just like in the formal stage. Later, the nurse will discover what works best for each child after a prolonged interaction. The nurse will also feel joy when she attains a state of harmony, confidence, and competence in nurturing a child who initially had no hope. The nurse may then be ready to take care of any other child in the rehabilitation unity.


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