Middle Range Theory of Maternal Role Attainment, proposed by Ramona Mercer, is a profound nursing theory that raises significance among mothers and their newborns. I choose the theory because it contains strong interlinkages between the mother and the baby. I researched this theory because it entails the Rear process and how a person is mingled within their environment. By better understanding Mercer’s maternal attainment theory, I will have a bigger capacity to create healthy relationships with mothers and their children. 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. 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.
Ramona Mercer, the proposer of the maternal role attainment theory, has served as a pediatric and staff nurse in intrapartum, postpartum and newborn nursing units. She has done several research revolving parenting in low and high-risk situations and transitioning into a maternal role. Ramona Mercer received an award with distinction in 1962 at the University of New Mexico, following a master’s degree in maternal child nursing. She has spent much time as a staff nurse, head nurse and clinical instructor. She has published a lot of nursing work about maternal and child health.
The Maternal role attainment theory, amid–range theory, evolved to aid as a background for nurses to provide suitable healthcare interventions for mothers to fulfil and adopt a strong maternal identity. Maternal attainment theory is aimed at the progressive evolution of the mother-child health connection in the process of the infants growing up. The theory, however, focused more on nontraditional mothers. The theory can be used throughout pregnancy to post-delivery. The theory helps mothers build a strong relationship between themselves and their babies. The primary concepts for maternal attainment role theory are the developmental and interactional process that occurs over a certain period. The theory focuses on nurses, mothers, and babies (Frese & Nguyen, 2022). Ramona Mercer noticed that nontraditional others had poor practices between them and their babies.
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. Incorporating the factors in this theory among nontraditional mothers will strengthen maternal feelings of caring for their children. The theory’s ultimate goal is to encourage a woman to establish a connection with the baby. Developing a connection with the baby will thus strengthen the infant’s feelings towards the mother (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 behaviours 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). Pregnancy, however, enables a woman to move from reality to another and requires a shift in role identity. A woman who becomes a mother must recognize the permanent change, seek information and assume motherhood roles. The four stages of maternal role theory relate stages of becoming a mother. The acceptance of the anticipatory stage relates to the beginning of pregnancy, including social and psychological adjustments to pregnancy. In the role-taking or the formal stage, the mother begins with the infant’s birth and includes recovery from the birth. Maternal attainment role theory is only limited to the mother’s adaptation to the role identity of motherhood. It is limited when the mother is already accepted and assumes the roles of motherhood. Becoming a mother to children is a continuous process from conception to termination of children during old age.
As Mercer’s theory outlines, becoming a mother entails possessing components. An effective attachment to the infant and gaining competencies in mothering behaviours 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.
Bonding with a newborn is essential to help a mother understand her baby well. It may be cue, hunger or comfort. Bonding with the baby is essential for the growth and well-being of the baby. Support of the baby’s immune system is enhanced. Skin-to-skin contact after birth promotes nursing and establishes a milk supply for the newborn (Barker et al., 2017). Bonding with the newborn supports cognitive development. Newborn brain neurons continue to the later years of life. However, bonding with the mother satisfies the baby’s nutritional needs. A mother will be able to recognize when the baby is hungry. Furthermore, an effective attachment with the newborn enhances strong bonding with the baby.
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. The formal (role-taking) stats with the birth of the baby. 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.
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.
Barker, J., Daniels, A., & Van Sell, S. (2017). Maternal-newborn bonding concept analysis.
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