Becoming a New Mother: Cultural Construction of Motherhood During Pregnancy in Taiwan

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Min-Tao Hsu, PhD, RN
School of Nursing, Kaohsiung Medical University, Kaohsiung, Taiwan
Yueh-Hsuan Tien, MSN
School of Nursing, Chung Hwa University of Medical Technology, Tainan, Taiwan

Learning Objective 1: The learner will be able to understand the impacts of culture on pregnancy in Taiwan.

Learning Objective 2: The learner will be able to understand how motherhood is constructed in Taiwanese culture.


Continuity is a major practice to inherit value system of father-son domain Hen Chinese family (Hsu, 1983). Although the content of continuity may include structure, the interactions, and other facets of family, pregnancy and birth, delivering family descendents, is the keystone of pursuing the reality. It plays an important role of understanding how motherhood is constructed. However, rare nursing research has been done to explore such reality.


The study intended to explore how women construct their motherhood in specific culture of Taiwan.


A total number of 39 females average aged 29.28 carried their first baby were interviewed for at least three times follow through three trimesters and after delivery. Guide by the interpretive ethnography, in-depth interview and participant observation were taken to collect data. Agar’s (1986) hermeneutic process was adopted to analyze the narrative texts given by the interviewees.


The results shown that womanhood, selfhood and motherhood were gradually integrated as a unity throughout pregnancy of Taiwanese women. In addition, they constructed themselves as a mother by identifying the relationship between them and their fetal. Such process of constructing the scheme of motherhood consists of three stages. First of all, parallel with first trimester, they utilized imagination and sensory which were derived from embody experience as the major vehicle to build the mother-child dyad. Second stage/trimester, pregnant becomes public affair followed by their physical change. At third stage/trimester, mothers use judgment rather than imagination/sensory to build connection with their babies. In this stage, medical equipments come into the relationships between mothers and their future babies. Fetal mostly becomes the object on medical screen to be discussed or judged.


Culture plays a crucial role of human adaptation. Nurses need to know more about what and how women experienced their pregnancy in order to provide better care.