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For women experiencing unplanned pregnancy, the thought of becoming a mother can increase stress and affect the mother’s mental health. Maternal adjustment can include depression, anxiety, worry, stress, and happiness (Mihelic et al., 2016). The impact that this new role has effects daily demands, leading to a disruption in occupational engagement, environmental changes, and overall less time for the mother (Horne et al., 2005). There is currently not a well-defined role for occupational therapy within pregnancy medical clinics to support women experiencing unplanned pregnancy and their transition to motherhood. The purpose of this project is to provide care to new moms and support, educate, provide resources, train, and care for the mother both prenatal and postnatal. The themes that emerged from the conducted needs assessments were that women identified lack of time management skills, occupational disruption, lack of sleep and self-care skills, balancing multiple roles, lack of occupational balance, and lack of time for self. Additional factors to consider was the discovery through conversation and building rapport with the participants, that all participants were Hispanic, and shared that mental health is a low priority in Hispanic culture. Based on these needs, a 6-week occupational therapy group program was created with an emphasis on mental health. The program was adapted from Karen Moore’s Sensory Connection Program: Curriculum for Self-Regulation (2015), and included classes titled: Goal Setting, Crisis Intervention, Healthy Sleep, Stress Management, Healthy Ways to Feel Good, and Balancing Work, Rest, and Play. All program material and curriculum was created in English and Spanish to ensure that all participants could participate and were included. The program was successful, and all 13 participants reported that their mental health had increased with use of the tools, strategies, exercises, and education provided. One participant stated, “I really appreciate her giving us tools to push ourselves and be motivated to achieve our goals…and learning to take care of our MENTAL HEALTH”. Based on the results from the post-program survey, participants identified an increase in ability to balance occupations, incorporate stress management skills, an increase in feeling supported, prioritizing mental health and self-care, and increase in confidence. The results indicate a great need for OT working with this population. OTs can support women through this program by providing mental health intervention, practicing client centered care, providing resources, equipping women with tools and strategies, self-advocacy training, etc.

Publication Date

Summer 8-11-2022


University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences


motherhood, pregnancy, unplanned pregnancy, occupational therapy, parenting, mental health, prenatal, postnatal

Medical Subject Headings

Pregnancy--Unplanned, Mothers, Mental Health, Depression, Anxiety, Occupational Therapy, Needs Assessment,


Mental and Social Health | Occupational Therapy


Poster presented at the Virtual OTD Capstone Symposium, held online at the University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences August 5-11, 2022.

The Role of Occupational Therapy in Unplanned Motherhood

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