Objectives: The admission of an infant to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) can produce significant stress for mothers and may contribute to a difficult transition following discharge. Past research has primarily focused on Caucasian women. Mexican-Americans are the fastest growing ethnic population in the U.S. with the highest fertility rate; therefore, the purpose of this grounded theory study was to gain a better understanding of the NICU experience for Mexican-American mothers. Methods: Fifteen women were recruited and data were collected through semi-structured interviews. Results: A theoretical model, taking care of my baby, was developed. The mothers' experiences began with the unexpected event of having an infant admitted to the NICU and played out in a context that fluctuated between being supportive (making meaningful connections) or inhibitive (struggling to mother). The women developed strategies to help them take care of their babies during the NICU stay: balancing responsibilities, leaving part of me with my baby, and watching over. The process concluded in one of two ways: bringing my baby home or losing my baby. Conclusion: These findings offer insight for neonatal nurses who provide care for Mexican-American NICU mothers and may help inform their practice. Further research is needed with this growing population to ensure supportive nursing care and influence positive outcomes.
- Neonatal intensive care unit
ASJC Scopus subject areas