Sample Undergraduate Nursing Literature Review

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Motherhood and the Struggles we Face Personally, Emotionally, and Against Society


This practice-based project is based on the struggles relating to motherhood. Motherhood is the state of having or bringing up a child or children. Being a mother or becoming one is a stressful condition, and most of the mothers are struggling to adjust. According to Aleksandra Staneva and Anja Wittkowski (2013, p. 260), mothers struggle for normalcy for several reasons, such as baby loss, postnatal depression and anxiety, body changes during and after pregnancy, and giving birth through either vaginal or C-section delivery.

The following literature review intends to support my project and provide background information and detail on some of the significant factors contributing to mothers’ struggles during and immediately after pregnancy.

Postnatal Depression and Anxiety

Postnatal depression and anxiety are one significant challenge that mothers face in the state of motherhood. A wide range of factors contributes to postnatal depression, such as traumatic birth, birth disappointment, family pressure in anticipation of baby boy’s arrival, previous baby loss and infertility, etc. (Chutima Roomruangwong and Neill Epperson, 2011).

In this regard, a study conducted by Patricia Drazin (1999, p. 265) states that pregnancy and childbirth can trigger several painful memories for those mothers who have experienced family violence, social isolation, and emotional abuse. Their findings also indicate that mothers who have family pressure for the first baby to be a son are likely to have postnatal depression and anxiety in the state of motherhood.

The study asserts that postnatal depression and anxiety are challenging or struggling phases that almost every mother faces (Zahra Alipour, Minoor Lamyian, and Ebrahim Hajizadeh, 2012). This analysis of available literature allows for an understanding of the struggles a mother faces in the state of motherhood in the form of postnatal depression.

This is quite relevant to my project: creating awareness and building support for mothers to unite and feel more confident in their decisions and choices in motherhood. The available literature allows for a better understanding of the variety of factors, social and biological, contributing to a condition described as postnatal depression.

Body Changes

A study by Ruta Nonacs (2006) indicates that body changes are a natural phenomenon that every mother goes through during and after pregnancy, but this often causes frustration and anxiety in mothers. It has been indicated in this study that women get frustrated when society bullies them when their body size becomes too large and when they feel uncomfortable while sleeping and sitting.

This type of frustration and discomfort makes mothers cry and struggle to cope up with their body changes. In support of Ruta Nonacs’ findings (2006), Christine Furber and Linda  McGowan (2011, p. 437) also state that societal views and comments play a significant role in influencing the minds of mothers regarding their body weight and changes.

They intend to see themselves the same as society sees them that usually distress the mothers during and after pregnancy. It could be asserted that motherhood is the most challenging or struggling phase of womens’ lives. They feel distressed and discomfort, and because of this, additional pressures become more challenging to process.

To give birth to a child or to become a mother without any complications is a positive experience for a mother. However, some societal views make mothers stressed and frustrated during labor pain and even after the child’s delivery. It is often thought that vaginal delivery is safer than C-sections and that those mothers who give birth to a child through vaginal delivery are often perceived as being lucky (Nonacs, 2006). C-sections may have several adverse consequences for the mothers, such as consistent lower back pain, bed rest after delivery, etc.

However, in contrast, Judith McAra-Couper, Marion Jones, and Liz Smythe (2012, p. 81) stated that some people think that C-section is safer than vaginal delivery as it can cause body changes to sexual side-effects and urinary retention that most of the mothers find intolerable. Regardless of how mothers give birth to their children, they are usually anxious and distressed while thinking about childbirth.

They are not always fully aware of the pros and cons of both of the delivery processes. Ruta Nonacs (2006) asserts that society’s perception of the delivery modes available has a significant impact on mothers’ psychology. Ruta Nonacs’ study offers a good understanding of how mothers are concerned regarding their body changes and method of delivery, which is another contributing factor in feeling distressed in their state of motherhood.

Baby Loss

A study by Alix Henley and Nancy Kohner (2003) indicates that motherhood is a desired social role that most women want to experience in their life. However, few women are not lucky to have their babies due to infertility or baby loss through neonatal birth or miscarriage. After a baby loss, most women sufferer from depressive disorder and frustration.

From the stage of conceiving to motherhood, becoming a mother is a powerful feeling, and most women become emotionally attached to their babies, starting from the early months of pregnancy. A recent study by Glenn, Chang, and Forcey (2016) and Cacciatore (2013, p. 76) support these findings. It states that the intense grief after losing a baby for mothers can cause frightening and overwhelming physical and emotional reactions.

Additionally, infertility bullying such as “your marriage has completed five years, you still have no child,” Ohh, you still have no child, why don’t you adopt a child?” is a huge societal pressure for the women that causes them to feel strain and discomfort (Carina Santos, Maria Pedro Sobral, and Mariana V. Martins, 2017, p. 1).

In infertility or baby loss, it is challenging for mothers to deal with wickedness and insensitivity. Most often, this comes from the dearest and closest people. In support of Alix Henley and Nancy Kohner’s (2003) findings, Celia Hindmarch (2016) states that baby loss is a big challenge for mothers. The studies illustrated here offer evidence that baby loss is one of the significant struggling factors for mothers. They work to cope with their anxiety and depression, along with societal pressure.

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In reviewing different studies and available literature on a mother’s struggles, it has been identified that motherhood is the most challenging or struggling phase in women’s lives. This literature review offers essential knowledge regarding the struggles a mother faces before or after delivery or baby loss. Mothers struggle in different forms and for various reasons, such as postnatal depression, baby loss, infertility, body changes, and delivery modes.

Most of these reasons are associated with biological factors or unpreventable complexities and societal pressures, illustrating a culture often insensitive and cruel towards mothers. This practice-based project aims at bringing greater visibility to the struggles of motherhood. While it is difficult to anticipate or reverse some of the conditions causing distress to women before and after childbirth, ultimately, the aim is to invent methods to contribute to the wellbeing of mothers and society’s views and help create an informed and empathetic view of motherhood.


Alipour, Z., Lamyian, M. and Hajizadeh, E., 2012. Anxiety and fear of childbirth as predictors of postnatal depression in nulliparous women. Women and Birth, 25(3), pp.e37-e43.

Cacciatore, J., 2013, April. Psychological effects of stillbirth. In Seminars in Fetal and Neonatal Medicine (Vol. 18, No. 2, pp. 76-82). WB Saunders.

Drazin, P.B., 1999. Surrendering to Motherhood-Losing Your Mind, Finding Your Soul. Journal of Human Lactation, 15(3), pp. 265-265.

Furber, C.M. and McGowan, L., 2011. A qualitative study of the experiences of women who are obese and pregnant in the U.K. Midwifery, 27(4), pp. 437-444.

Glenn, E.N., Chang, G. and Forcey, L.R., 2016. Mothering: Ideology, experience, and agency. Routledge.

Henley, A. and Kohner, N., 2003. When a baby dies: the experience of late miscarriage, stillbirth and neonatal death. Routledge.

Hindmarch, C., 2016. On the Death of a Child. CRC Press.

McAra-Couper, J., Jones, M. and Smythe, L., 2012. Caesarean-section, my body, my choice: The construction of ‘informed choice in relation to intervention in childbirth. Feminism & Psychology, 22(1), pp. 81-97.

Nonacs, R., 2006. A Deeper Shade of Blue: A Woman’s Guide to Recognizing and Treating Depression in Her Childbearing Years. Simon and Schuster.

Santos, C., Sobral, M.P. and Martins, M.V., 2017. Effects of life events on infertility diagnosis: comparison with presumably fertile men and women. Journal of reproductive and infant psychology, 35(1), pp. 1-13.

Staneva, A. and Wittkowski, A., 2013. Exploring beliefs and expectations about motherhood in Bulgarian mothers: a qualitative study. Midwifery, 29(3), pp. 260-267.

Roomruangwong, C. and Epperson, C.N., 2011. Perinatal depression in Asian women: prevalence, associated factors, and cultural aspects. Asian Biomedicine, 5(2), pp.179-193.

Frequently Asked Questions

To write an undergraduate level literature review:

  1. Define the research scope.
  2. Search and select relevant sources.
  3. Summarize and synthesize key findings.
  4. Organise by themes or trends.
  5. Provide critical analysis.
  6. Conclude by highlighting gaps and significance.