Journal of Child and Family Studies

, Volume 23, Issue 6, pp 1050–1061 | Cite as

Parenting and Prematurity: Understanding Parent Experience and Preferences for Support

  • Koa Whittingham
  • Roslyn N. Boyd
  • Matthew R. Sanders
  • Paul Colditz
Original Paper


Infants born very preterm are at risk of developmental and behavioural problems and their parents are at risk of psychological distress and compromised parenting. This study has two key aims: (1) to identify, from the parents’ own perspective, the unique aspects of parenting an infant born very preterm and (2) to assess parent preferences for support including opinions of a new, tailored parenting intervention, Prem Baby Positive Parenting Program (Triple P). A qualitative approach was taken with focus groups of 18 parents of infants born preterm and a thematic analysis conducted. Parents identified several unique aspects of parenting an infant born preterm including: difficulty coping with the stress of hospitalisation; institutionalisation to the hospital environment; a lack of preparation for the transition to parenthood; grief; isolation; getting into “bad parenting habits” of overnurturance and a lack of certainty about developmental expectations. Parents preferred parenting support that is tailored to parents of infants born preterm, has flexible delivery, enhances coping skills and the spousal relationship and is sensitive to the emotional context of parenting an infant born preterm. Understanding the experiences and the preferences of parents of infants born preterm is an important step in tailoring parenting interventions to fit their needs.


Parenting intervention Early intervention Prematurity Preterm Infant 



We acknowledge an NHMRC postdoctoral fellowship (KW 631712); an NHMRC Career Development Fellowship (RB 473840) and a Smart State Fellowship (RB).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Koa Whittingham
    • 1
  • Roslyn N. Boyd
    • 1
  • Matthew R. Sanders
    • 2
  • Paul Colditz
    • 3
  1. 1.Queensland Cerebral Palsy and Rehabilitation Research Centre, The School of Medicine, Faculty of Health SciencesThe University of QueenslandBrisbaneAustralia
  2. 2.Parenting and Family Support Centre, School of Psychology, Faculty of Social and Behavioural SciencesThe University of QueenslandBrisbaneAustralia
  3. 3.Centre for Clinical ResearchThe University of QueenslandBrisbaneAustralia

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