South Africa ranks 24th out of 184 countries with regard to its premature birth rate.
According to data published by the Howson, Kinney, and Lawn (2012), eight out of
every hundred babies born in South Africa are born prematurely. Giving birth
prematurely can be a traumatic event (Evans & Madsen, 2005). Mothers who have
premature infants in NICUs face multiple challenges and lose hope during the long
period of hospitalisation (Charchuk & Simpson, 2005; Green, 2015). This study was
undertaken to examine the experiences of a NICU mother and the ways in which her
experiences could be related to hope. The study is theoretically framed within the
field of positive psychology and hope theory, as adapted by Plaas (2007).
The participant described her personal understanding of hope and how, during her
period of hospitalisation, she had experienced hope by drawing from both internal
and external resources. This qualitative study was conducted from within an
interpretivist paradigm and an exploratory case study research design was used. The
specific case was bounded by the experiences of a mother who had given birth to a
premature baby with a low birth weight (less than 1,500 g) in a South African
government hospital’s NICU and was housed in the mother lodger facility for the
duration of the infant’s NICU stay. Purposive sampling was used and data was
collected during an individual in-depth interview, which included observational notes
and keeping a reflective researcher’s journal. A verbatim transcript of the interview
was analysed by means of an inductive thematic analysis.
Primary research question: What are the hope experiences of a NICU mother at a
government hospital in South Africa?