Graduation Year


Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


French Studies

Second Department


Reader 1

Judith LeMaster

Reader 2

France Lemoine

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© 2016 Abigail F. Daum


The aim of the proposed study is to examine the effects of the transition into new motherhood and the differences in these effects among American and French primiparous mothers. The study establishes the societal pressures and cultural expectations placed on the motherhood role, historically and to the present day, and presents possible sources for maternal guilt, role strain, and a sense of loss of individuated self in the transition to new motherhood. This mixed methods study uses semi-structured interviews, vignettes, the Job-Family Role Strain Scale, and the Motherhood Salience Scale to determine the effects of the transition into the new mother role. American mothers, compared with French mothers, are expected to feel more societal pressure related to motherhood, practice more intensive mothering, feel more “Supermom” pressure, feel more role strain related to work-family balance, feel more maternal guilt, place motherhood higher on their identity salience hierarchy, and feel more of a loss of individuated self. This research may provide a fuller understanding of the motherhood role and how the shift into new motherhood is felt cross-culturally.

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