Download Full Text (595 KB)


The transition to motherhood [matrescence] is a time of major life changes. All aspects of a new mother’s life are impacted during matrescence as she assumes her new role, identity, responsibilities, and learns the occupational skills of mothering. During this time, health, wellness, and occupational balance may all be impacted. This is a sensitive time for mothers with potential implications for both short and long-term health. Using an occupation-based approach can be a way to provide comprehensive support and care to mothers during this period to promote health and wellness, enhance occupational engagement, and support meaningful co-occupations. Currently there is a lack of comprehensive occupational therapy programs to support new mothers and maternal wellness.

The purpose of this capstone project was to assess the current needs of the new mother population and develop a program to support maternal health and wellness. A needs assessment was conducted at the Child Development Institute [CDI]. The survey and interview questions were developed from extensive literature review on current publications in maternal health. The assessment included qualitative and quantitative data that was collected through online surveys and phone interviews. There were 60 survey responses and 11 completed interviews included in the analysis. The results identified needed supports in preparing for motherhood and postpartum, challenges to routines, roles, and responsibilities, self-care, mental health, physical health, and social supports. Themes were identified from the assessment including perceptions of the COVID-19 Pandemic impacts on motherhood and social support.

This data was used to enhance a current program already in place at CDI, [CDI’s CALM Baby class: content was provided on establishing routines and self-care] and to propose a new maternal wellness program. The program consisted of 5 parts: The fourth trimester recovery and mother-baby bonding, social supports, mental health, physical health, and establishing routines and self-care habits. The program was proposed and presented to the occupational therapy staff at CDI with the following program outcomes: the presentation increased knowledge base, information would be useful in practice, was presented to be understandable to professionals and the public, supporting materials reinforced the program content. The outcomes suggest the program has the potential to be a successful addition to practice for maternal healthcare and provide support of occupational therapy’s value to maternal health.

Publication Date

Fall 12-9-2021


University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences

Medical Subject Headings

Maternal Health, Social Support, Mental Health, Self-Care, Postpartum Period, Occupational Therapy, Health Promotion, Surveys and Questionnaires


Mental and Social Health | Obstetrics and Gynecology | Occupational Therapy


Poster presented at the Fall 2021 Virtual OTD Capstone Symposium held online at the University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences, December 9-10, 2021.

Exploring Occupational Therapy’s Role in Supporting Health and Wellness in the Transition to Motherhood