An exploration of co-parenting in the context of caring for a child prenatally diagnosed and born with a complex health condition

Anne Chevalier McKechnie, Jamie Rogstad, Katherine M. Martin, Karen F. Pridham

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations

Abstract

Aim: The aim of this study was to describe co-parenting communication in couples in the context of caregiving for children prenatally diagnosed and born with complex health conditions. Background: Foetal diagnosis of complex health conditions such as heart, central nervous system, or abdominal anomalies are confirmed more often than ever before. Following diagnosis, parents face challenges beginning before birth. The quality of co-parenting, when two individuals relate to each other as parents and share parental responsibilities, can have an impact on child health and development. Yet, little is known about co-parenting during the transition to parenthood after foetal diagnosis. Design: This secondary analysis of interview data was informed by Bowlby's theoretical work on a parent's view of self as caregiver and the literature on co-parenting. Methods: Data were drawn from a larger, mixed methods, longitudinal study and included audio-recorded interviews conducted with 16 parents participating as eight couples after foetal diagnosis during the third trimester of pregnancy in 2011–2012 and again when children were 14–37 months old in 2014. Analysis of interviews transcribed verbatim focused on co-parenting communication. Findings: Co-parenting communication regarding support, agreement and information sharing and a new category of shared meaning were related to the diagnosis before birth. Later, couples evolved in their co-parenting communication while caring for their toddlers and working towards achieving a sense of normalcy. Conclusion: Variation in co-parenting communication among couples preparing and caring for children with complex health conditions, including the development of a shared meaning of the child's diagnosis, needs further investigation to inform nursing assessment and guide tailored interventions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)350-363
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Advanced Nursing
Volume74
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 1 2018

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Funding information The conduct of this study was supported through funding received by the first author, and includes National Research Service Awards from the National Institute of Nursing Research for an individual pre-doctoral fellowship (F31 NR011563), and institutional postdoctoral training, Preventing and Managing Chronic Illness (T32 NR007091-18), as well as an Eckburg Scholarship from the University of Wisconsin–Madison, School of Nursing. The third author's contribution to this research was supported by a University of Minnesota School of Nursing Research Assistantship. We wish to extend our sincere appreciation to the couples who thoughtfully shared their experiences with us. We acknowledge Suzanne Thoyre, Marcia Van Riper, Margarete Sandelowski, Steven Leuthner, Emilie Lamberg–Jones, Sara Babcock, and Shardha Srinivasan for their valuable contributions to the study.

Funding Information:
The conduct of this study was supported through funding received by the first author, and includes National Research Service Awards from the National Institute of Nursing Research for an individual predoctoral fellowship (F31 NR011563), and institutional postdoctoral training, Preventing and Managing Chronic Illness (T32 NR007091-18), as well as an Eckburg Scholarship from the University of Wisconsin–Madison, School of Nursing. The third author’s contribution to this research was supported by a University of Minnesota School of Nursing Research Assistantship.

Keywords

  • caregiving
  • childbearing
  • childhood illness
  • parenting
  • psychosocial nursing
  • qualitative approaches

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