Middle Range Theory of Maternal Role Attainment, proposed by Ramona Mercer, is a profound nursing theory that raises significance among mothers and their newborns. A mother’s and baby’s health are related; hence, focusing on this theory is vital in providing effective care between two related persons, the baby, and the mother. The theory, however, through its stages, depicts an interactional concept that is key for nursing to chip into providing maternal care and their baby’s health. The theory also helps mothers overcome strong attachments with their babies when death arises; building a relationship between mother and child is illustrated in this middle-range theory which is essential for the baby’s growth.
Maternal role attainment proposed by Roman elaborates significant insight into attaining effective parenthood care. The middle range was developed to structure for nurses to provide appropriate health care interventions for mothers in adopting effective and strong maternal roles. The theory depicts a whole process beginning from pregnancy towards post-delivery. The theory helps mothers create a strong bond with their babies; it also helps mothers who succumb to their babies get rid of the previous strong attachment with their babies. A strong maternal identity enables the infant or the babies to form an attachment with their mothers. The theory’s primary role in creating an interactive and developmental process; is between the mother and their babies. The maternal identity is attained when the woman assumes a new identity from the period of self-identity to real motherhood. The maternal attainment role allows nurses to identify factors that influence the process of becoming a mother in adolescence, strengthen the mother and the child, and reinforce confidence in the performance of the maternal role. Adolescents assuming motherhood roles may find it hectic in the transition; hence maternal attainment theory is significant in providing intervention for them to accept and assume effective parenthood roles.
The Maternal Role Attainment Theory provides a framework for nurses to deliver appropriate healthcare involvements for nontraditional mothers to successfully adopt a solid maternal identity through creating a maternal identity. Nontraditional mothers do have an insufficient maternal identity. The theory helps care for women in maternity roles due to unanticipated circumstances (Cabrera, 2018).
Mercer’s work on maternal attainment role relates to becoming a mother. The parental role is attained when the mother senses concord with the role of motherhood and its anticipations. The concepts depicted in the Mercers theory that relate to becoming a mother include an attachment to the infant, gaining confidence in mothering behaviors, and articulating satisfaction in maternal-infant interactions. Becoming a mother begins with pregnancy which is a marker upsetting the woman’s status quo to accepting the shift to motherhood (Husmillo, 2013).
As Mercer’s theory outlines, becoming a mother entails possessing components. An effective attachment to the infant and gaining competencies in mothering behaviors are defined as being a mother. One has to develop a strong relationship with the infant, which will yield proper progressive development of the baby. To become a mother, one has to demonstrate satisfaction in maternal-infant interactions—parental attachment to the infant advances within the expressive arena of the parent’s relationship.
The four stages in maternal role attainment include; anticipatory, role-taking, informal (role-making), and role identity. Anticipatory involves the mother’s approval of the pregnancy as a different individual and fantasizing about the new baby. Formal (role-taking) starts with the birth of the baby (Frese & Nguyen, 2022). Nurses play a significant role in guiding and helping the mother and the newborn. The informal (role-taking) enables the mother to structure the maternal role to fit her present physiological state. Finally, the fourth stage, role identity, enables the mother to integrate mothering into her self-system. The mother will thus grow up knowing she has a motherhood role and will continue caring for the children.
The structural aspects of maternal role attainment theory include the following; a mother is the sole self to define and perceives events throughout her life, the mother responds to the infants according to her maturity, and her level of personality, the mother’s behavioral responses are determined by her developmental level as well as personality (Noseff, 2014). The infant is the active partner in the process and will reveal the mother’s capability for nurturing growth and development. Additionally, the father plays a crucial role in attainment.
The theory suitably fits in a nursing surrounding related to the childbirth family. Promoting the maternal role attainment theory is essential in the medical setting. For example, it is vital in obstetric care because the theory focuses on post-partum mothers. However, the maternal role attainment role theory was improved to the caring theory; the theory upholds the caring aspect of the healthcare providers to the patients. Nursing entails looking into all aspects of an individual, that is, a person’s physical, psychological, emotional, and spiritual needs. During the patient’s first contact with a nurse through admission, caring chips in by the nurse to ensure the patient is overcome and recover from illness. The theory tends to answer include; why does obtaining maternal role attainment benefit infant growth? Why does bonding during breastfeeding speed up the process of maternal attainment; what prenatal and post-partum education will help the mother successfully obtain her role in motherhood?
Lack of knowledge enables the nurses to provide requisite knowledge through education and direct conversation with patients. The maternal role theory strongly articulates essential concepts and frameworks to be upheld. The theory’s depiction of the maternal role from conception to post-delivery embraces the aspects of caring for their newborns. Patients admitted to healthcare or those seeking healthcare services have little or no knowledge regarding their state of health. Contact of health care providers with the patients significantly helps in walking with the patient in the disease process by providing care through education and services to the patients.
The significance of the theory is that the healthcare professional will use the information from the maternal attainment theory in assisting prenatal and postnatal patients. Especially nontraditional mothers who do not have the maternal attainments roles in caring for their children. Education regarding infant care and helping mothers instill confidence to care for their children is essential to attaining the maternal role. Assessing and providing care to children in the pediatric unit by an advanced practicing health care provider, for instance, a nurse will present a chance to assess if the mother and infant have bonded effectively.
As with other theories, some weaknesses arise with the use of theories. Concerning maternal role attainment, the relationship between the maternal role and some factors is not always defined, but they are connected. It may be hectic to tell ideas and maternal factors due to the difficulty of the theory.
Maternal role attainment theory is an explicit theory that utilizes maternal profiles. The theory emphases more on its four stages. One challenge or difficulty with the theory is that the four maternal role attainment stages are not time-dependent. Mothers may reach their last stage in five months, and others may take up to a year. Multiple variables contribute to these differences. The most significant variable through maternal role attainment theory is the mother’s direct relationship with the baby and the father. However, the stages of maternal role attainment theory can be hindered by social and cultural influences (Noseff, 2014).
The maternal attainment theory applies to a nurse qualified in the codes of maternal role attainment. It is also applicable to nontraditional mothers who lack maternal attainment roles. Finally, the theory is applicable in teaching a mother how to move to the next stage of motherhood. As a healthcare worker, it isn’t easy to assist mothers in moving through some stages, for example, from the formal to the informal stage, lest the mother has undertaken maternal training.
Joseph, J. (2014). Theory usage and application paper: maternal role attainment. International Journal of childbirth education, 29(3), 58–62.
Husmillo, M. (2013). Maternal role attainment theory. International Journal of Childbirth Education, 28(2), 46–49.
Cabrera, J. P. (2018). Maternal Role Attainment Theory: Promoting Maternal Identity and Family Health. International Journal of Childbirth Education, 33(2).
Frese, B. J., & Nguyen, M. H. T. (2022). The Evolution of Maternal Role Attainment: A Theory Analysis. Advances in Nursing Science, pp. 10–1097.
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