Maternal Role Attainment Theory

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Healthcare providers witnessing the birth of a child are not only witnessing an infant take its first breathe, but also the changes in a family, primarily a mother. Ramona T. Mercer sees becoming a mother as a very elaborate, and life-long experience. Mercer developed the Maternal Role Attainment Theory (MRA), which was later renamed Maternal Role Attainment Theory- Becoming a Mother (BAM). Her theory provides a framework for mother and infant bonding throughout pregnancy, birth, and postpartum. Mercer (2004) believes that each mother will have a unique experience in adapting to her new role, following a four step process and may be influenced by several factors including maternal age, socioeconomic status, and health status (p. 227). Ramona Mercer’s research is very well known in the maternal-child field of nursing and current practice is still based on her research (Beal, Freda 2005).

Ramona Thieme Mercer began her nursing career in 1950, after she graduated from St. Margaret’s school of Nursing in Alabama. She worked in pediatrics, and also worked in postpartum, and newborn nursery units (Maternal role attainment theory). She returned to school in 1960 earning her masters degree in maternal-child nursing from the University of New Mexico. Mercer returned once more to school in 1973 and completed her Ph.D. at the University of Pittsburg. She has spent over 30 years researching the parenting situations, and how woman take on the role as mother. In 1990 she was awarded with the American Nurses Foundation’s Distinguished Contribution to Nursing Science Award. Mercer (2004) believes that theory building is a continual process, and updated research is required (p. 230).

She spent many years researching the transition a woman...

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... Nursing Scholarship, 36(3), 226-232.

Husmillo, M. (2013). Maternal role attainment theory. International Journal of Childbirth Education, 28(2), 46-48.

Maternal role attainment theory. (n.d.). Retrieved from

Beal, J., & Freda, M. (2005). Toward evidence-based practice: becoming a mother versus maternal role. The American Journal of Maternal/Child Nursing, 30(2), 145-145. Retrieved from

Past distinguished alumni award recipient: Ramona t. mercer. (n.d.). Retrieved from ]

Mercer, R. (1995). Becoming a mother: Research on maternal identity from Rubin to present. New York: Springer.
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