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Active Negotiation: Mothers with Intellectual Disabilities Creating Their Social Support Networks

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Background 

The support networks of mothers with intellectual disabilities play an important role in caring for children. Understanding the support provided by the network is therefore vital in understanding the capacity of a mother to care for her child. Nevertheless, how these important networks came into existence is yet to be explored. Furthermore, the other functions support networks may serve are poorly understood, apart from assistance with child care. Materials and Methods 

This paper reports some findings from a phenomenological study into becoming a mother for women with intellectual disabilities. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 17 expectant mothers with intellectual disabilities. One part of the phenomenon, ‘negotiating a support network for me and my baby’ is described. Results 

Expectant mothers strategically negotiated support networks prior to the baby’s birth. They sought practical assistance for the tasks of mothering from those who acknowledged them as the most important person in their baby’s life. Conclusions 

The findings have implications for the practitioners engaged in supporting mothers and their children, particularly those who are a part of the lives of women with intellectual disabilities and their children due to a court order.
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Keywords: mother; phenomenology; support network

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Australian Family & Disability Studies Research Collaboration, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Sydney, Lidcombe, NSW, Australia 2: Department of Occupational Therapy, Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB, Canada

Publication date: July 1, 2008

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