Niels Christian Hvidt


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Journal Articles:
Prayer and meditation among Danish first time mothers - a questionnaire study

by Prinds, Hvidtjorn, Skytthe, Mogensen, Hvidt


Mothers’ existential dimensions in the transition to motherhood have not been described thoroughly. They might experience disruption and new perspectives in existential ways and this may especially be the case in preterm birth. The aim of this study was twofold. First we investigated the existential dimension of motherhood transition in a secularized context, through practices of prayer and meditation. Second we described the relationship between time of birth (term/preterm) and the prayer/meditation practices of the mothers.


Data were gathered from a nationwide questionnaire survey among first time mothers conducted during the summer 2011. All Danish women who gave birth before the 32nd pregnancy week (n = 255), and double the number of mothers who gave birth at full term (n = 658) in 2010 were included (total n = 913). The questionnaire consisted of 46 overall items categorized in seven sections, which independently cover important aspects of existential meaning-making related to becoming a mother. The respondent rate was 57 % (n = 517).


Moments of praying or meditation 6–18 months post partum were reported by 65 %, and mothers who responded affirmatively, practiced prayer (n = 286) more than meditation (n = 89), p < 0,001. We did not observe differences in affirmative responses to prayer or meditation between mothers of full term or preterm born children, not even after controlling for perinatal or post partum loss, mode of birth, age, status of cohabiting or education.


In this explorative study we found specific practices of existential meaning-making through prayer and/or meditation among first time mothers, living in a very secularized context. Yet we know only little about character or importance of these practices among mothers, and hardly anything about existential meaning-making among new fathers. Hence the implications of meaning-making practices related to other dimensions of health are difficult to address in a qualified way in care for new mothers and families.

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