Psychological Well-Being of Mothers with Preterm Infants
Backgrounds: Although preterm infant admission to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) can cause psychological distress in mothers, the impact of infant hospitalization on maternal coping and psychological well-being is still poorly understood. Specific Aims: 1) Examine the impact of maternal stress and type of coping strategies on the psychological well-being of mothers with preterm infants in the NICU from admission to 2 weeks, 2) Examine the impact of perceived social/nursing support on the psychological well-being of mothers with preterm infants in the NICU from admission to 2 weeks, and 3) Identify maternal/infant characteristics that may affect the psychological well-being of mothers with preterm infants in the NICU at 2 weeks from admission. Methods: 100 mothers of preterm infants were included in three level III NICUs. A repeated-measures design was employed at two time points using instruments including Brief Symptom Inventory, Patient Health Questionnaire mood scale, General Well-Being Schedule, Parental Stress Scale: NICU, Perceived Stress Scale, Brief COPE inventory, Multidimensional Scale of Perceived Social Support, and Nurse Parent Support Tool. Results: Maternal stress was a negative predictor, and perceived social support was a positive predictor of psychological well-being. Mothers used more emotion-focused coping strategies at admission, and used more problem-focused coping strategies at two weeks. Infant characteristics (i.e., gestational age, infant morbidity score, hospital discharge < 2 weeks) and maternal characteristics (i.e., race/ethnicity, language, education, marital status, income, employment status, pregnancy complications, breastfeeding at 2 weeks) were identified as predictors of maternal psychological well-being. Conclusions: Psychological well-being is impaired in mothers of preterm infants upon NICU admission and surveillance is warranted prior to discharge. Problem-focused coping strategies were used in mothers by 2 weeks of hospitalization and can be used as a bench-mark for readiness for discharge teaching. Further research is needed to address time points past 2 weeks and the impact of negative maternal mental health on maternal-infant bond and infant growth parameters.