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Ciência & Saúde Coletiva

On-line version ISSN 1678-4561Print version ISSN 1413-8123


FERNANDES, Rosangela Torquato et al. Weaving the web of abandonment: beyond the perceptions of mothers of preterm infants. Ciênc. saúde coletiva [online]. 2011, vol.16, n.10, pp.4033-4042. ISSN 1678-4561.

The scope of this study was to analyze the events involved in preterm infant abandonment by their mothers. A qualitative study was carried out with 12 mothers of preterm infants interned in the NICU of the Federal University of Maranhão - Brazil. The techniques were semi-structured interviews and a focus group performed during internment and in follow-up in the outpatient unit. The sample was defined according to saturation criteria. Content analysis was utilized by thematic scrutiny. The results showed several modes of abandonment in the mothers' life history: abandonment by relatives, social abandonment, and abandonment by the partner. Abandonment by the family was seen in childhood and adolescence as well as in pregnancy, and during infant internment. Another point was the perception of caring as a maternal duty leading to the building of the ideal model that a good mother is loving and does not abandon her offspring. Family, social, and health professional support networks can contribute to maternal empowerment that leads to refraining from abandonment. It was concluded that an abandoned mother might in turn become an abandoning mother, and that, support networks providing attention and protection may turn the history of the abandonment cycle around.

Keywords : Newborn abandonment; Infant abandonment; Prematurity.

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