Aim To investigate the process of establishing parenthood after birth of moderate or late preterm infant (GW 32–37).
Background Moderate or late preterm counts 80% of the premature population. In spite of known morbidity they are discharged without specialised health care services. Parents can modify child’s effects of prematurity. Studies lack on the processes for establishing parenthood.
Methods PhD project. Using anthropological multisite fieldwork with participant observations in Danish families in and around their homes (1 year up to 2, 5 years) including peer groups for premature parents, regular “mother-groups”, health care visits and facebook. Qualitative semi structured research interviews were conducted.
Results Premature birth and hospitalisation is a disruption regarding cultural ideals about being natural, in control, agency, readiness and planning. Hospitalisation influences parental care ex on feeding procedures and causes a medicalized gaze upon the child. Hospitalisation is like a bell-jar, intense around the baby – eliminated from the world. Parents try to heal prematurity as disruption searching for normalcy in the context of the Danish welfare state. Parenthood tends to become a professionalised and moral practice. Uncertainty is accentuated by prematurity as ambiguous category. Peergroups often contribute to feelings of difference instead of normalcy in the parent-hood-community.
Conclusion and implication for practice Construction of parenthood is complicated and challenged by prematurity as experience and category. Content and application of prematurity as category is unclear and is constantly “flashing in the wings”. Knowledge on these parents should be integrated in developing care services in and outside hospitals.