Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Dr. Cecelia Grindel - Chair

Second Advisor

Dr. Carol Howell

Third Advisor

Dr. Patsy Ruchala


Motherhood is a rewarding, but challenging experience. Mothers are expected to balance parenting with multiple roles including employment. How mothers adjust is influenced by their confidence in their role, their mental health, the social support from their partner, family, and friends, and their perceptions of their infants (Mercer, 1995). Maternal confidence has been identified in the literature as an essential variable in the adaptation to motherhood and to the maternal role (Mercer, 1986; Walker, Crain, & Thompson, 1986). Low maternal confidence delays the transitioning into the maternal role/identity as well as limits the satisfaction in the mothering role (Mercer, 1986). Having infants with difficult temperament further impedes this transition resulting in frustration with new mothers and possibly depression (Andrews, 1990). This study used a descriptive correlational design to explore the relationship between infant temperament and selected maternal factors (education, prior childcare experience, social support, and depression) and maternal confidence. A convenience sample of 94 primiparous mothers with infants 6 weeks to 32 weeks participated in this study. SPSS statistical software version 10.0 was used to analyze data and answer the following research questions: 1) What is the relationship between infant temperament, and selected maternal factors (education, prior childcare experience, social support, and depression), and maternal confidence of first-time mothers during their child’s infancy?; 2) What are the differences in maternal confidence between first-time mothers with infants’ age 6 weeks - 16 weeks and first-time mothers with infants’ age 17 weeks – 32 weeks? Results revealed statistical significant relationships between infant temperament, social support, and depression with maternal confidence. Social support also had statistically significant relationships with education and depression. Infant temperament, social support, and depression predicted 20.6% of the variance with maternal confidence. There was also a significant difference between groups with mothers’ perception of their infants’ temperament. Healthcare providers need to be aware that mothers who suffer from depression, have low social support, and perceive their infants to have difficult temperament are at risk for having low confidence in the care they provide for their infants. Further research is needed to explore intervention methods aimed at increasing maternal confidence with new mothers.


Included in

Nursing Commons