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Ambivalence, Maternal

  • By: Ivana Brown
  • In: Encyclopedia of Motherhood
  • Edited by: Andrea O'Reilly
  • Subject:Sociology of Gender, Parenting, Maternal Health

The changes and emotions associated with the arrival of a new baby are usually love, joy, and happiness. While most women take pleasure in having a baby, they may also feel exhausted, overwhelmed by the responsibilities of childcare, lonely if they take care of their child without sufficient social support, or confused about their new identity. Yet cultural images of new mothers rarely present such feelings. The difficulties, stress, or feelings of aggression that can be triggered by the transition to motherhood thus take many women by surprise. The concept of maternal ambivalence captures the simultaneous experience of positive and negative feelings, beliefs, or thoughts about motherhood and the relationship between mother and child. While most mothers probably feel conflicted about their children and their ...

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