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J Holist Nurs. 1996 Dec;14(4):316-31.

The experience of self for women who are mothers. Implications for the unfolding of health.

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  • 1School of Nursing, University of Victoria in British Columbia, Canada.


Although the expression and transformation of self is integral to people's health and healing experiences, nurses currently lack an in-depth understanding of how women who are mothers experience and express themselves. This article presents the results of a recent study that examined the lived experience of self for mothers. Principles of interpretive phenomenology and feminist inquiry guided the investigation. The results of the study describe the nature and experience of self for the 7 women/mother participants and highlight the complementary relationship between the experience of oneself and the unfolding of health. Three essential themes emerged to describe the experience of self, including (a) self as a multiplicity of parts, (b) self as a relational process, and (c) self as a synthesis. The results illustrate the complementary relationship between health and self experience and highlight the nursing imperative of supporting women/mothers in their unfolding of self.

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