Experiences of motherhood in university students in Brazil: a qualitative study

Fernanda Amorim*, Brunna Maia, Valéria Melo, Camila Almeida, Juliana Magalhães, Claudia Carvalho, Magda Viana, Juscélia Veras, Cíntia Mendes, Carolinne Damasceno

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Abstract

Introduction: The women’s rise to higher education contrasts with the phenomenon of motherhood, since it instigates changes in various contexts, whether physiological or emotional, and directly affects the way of life and routine of those women, resulting in a constant conflict between motherhood and academic career. In this sense, the student has to restructure responsibilities and behaviors, as well as requires family support and laws that support her in this period. Objectives: To describe the experiences of motherhood in university students, and to identify the strategies developed by university students to adapt motherhood with academic routine. Methods: This is a descriptive, exploratory and qualitative research carried out in a private University Center in Brazil. The participants were ten Nursing undergraduate students, regularly enrolled and who experienced motherhood during the academic term. Data were collected during August and September 2019, through a recorded interview using a semi-structured form. For the treatment and analysis of the data, the Collective Subject Discourse was used. The study followed the ethical precepts and was approved by the ethics committee (opinion n. 3.419.572). Results: The participants’ discourses gave rise to four central ideas: Feelings experienced from the discovery of pregnancy; The discovery of pregnancy and the decision to continue the course; Support relationships as a decisive factor for the non-abandonment of the course and Strategies to reconcile motherhood with academic routine. The main key expressions identified in the discourses were: joy, fear, insecurity, anguish, concern, distress, anger, sadness, interrupting, giving up, taking time off from the course, not taking time off from the course, family support, support from friends, support from the institution, adjusting schedules, studying while my child sleeps, family help, taking the baby to college, storing milk while breastfeeding. Conclusion: The analysis of the discourses revealed that the experience of motherhood in the university sphere is marked by a combination of different feelings, and by an important process of adaptations to the new moment, since there is a reflection and indecision about the continuity of the academic trajectory. The reports also highlight the importance of family, institutional and friend support, such as a support network of incentive to the care with the child, as well as the use of strategies to reconcile academic routine with motherhood.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)313-318
Number of pages6
JournalOpen Nursing Journal
Volume15
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Keywords

  • Adaptation
  • Behavior
  • Motherhood
  • Parenting
  • Strategies
  • Students
  • Undergraduate students

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