Date Presented 04/02/2022

This research explores maternal role transition and competency to better understand how OTs can support mothers during the transition to motherhood. The following themes emerged after an in-depth literature review and three focus groups with new mothers: support systems, physical and psychological health, role transition, and advocacy. OTs can provide education and adaptations or modifications to routines to facilitate balance during the imbalance of a new mother’s life.

Primary Author and Speaker: Elsie Hurtado Pollari

Contributing Authors: Bhumi Bhatt, Sophia Baffes, Kelsie Walraven, Kelly Raye, Huda Hussain, Victoria Greenlee, Tess Somerville

PURPOSE: An in-depth analysis of existing literature showed a lack of research on how occupational therapists can address maternal role transition and competency. This study sought to identify areas of opportunity for occupational therapists to support maternal needs during the transition into motherhood and to contribute knowledge to further the scope of the occupational therapy profession.

DESIGN: The research project was a qualitative study that utilized convenience sampling of thirteen mothers. Our inclusion criteria included women who had given birth within the past three years.

METHOD: Research was conducted through three one-hour focus groups over the Zoom platform, with 4-5 participants in each group, along with two student moderators and the primary investigator. The researchers introduced the study and stated the intended benefits and goal of the study. Participants were advised that all focus groups would be recorded. Researchers saved the audio recordings of all focus groups in a secure online file that is only accessible to the researchers. The researchers transcribed the audio recording from the focus group interviews to then code and theme transcripts. Once themes were identified, researchers interpreted the findings to determine implications for creating educational programming and occupational therapy’s role with the perinatal population.

RESULTS: After conducting three focus groups, the following five themes were identified from the conversations with mothers: support systems, physical health, emotional/psychological health, role transition, and advocacy and insight. With the information gathered from the research groups, educational podcasts and supplemental resources were created surrounding the themes mothers in the perinatal period reiterated as areas requiring additional support.

CONCLUSION: Occupational therapy can be an asset to the perinatal health care team. Occupational therapists are able to provide individualized adaptations and modifications to routines by facilitating the use of scheduling techniques, including the areas of occupation where imbalance may be found in a new mother’s life. Occupational therapy in perinatal health can focus on education regarding energy conservation strategies if certain areas physically are disrupted, or about adaptations such as prepared postpartum kits. Additionally, mothers should be educated by other members of the medical team to seek a therapy referral to occupational therapy for pelvic health or other orthopedic concerns during and after pregnancy to remediate physical health problems and enable occupational participation.


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