Motherhood is often a desirable state and frequently results in excitement and happiness associated with expectations of the coming of a new family member. On the other hand, it involves uncertainty related to responsibility and vulnerability which may result in negative experiences. A combination of positive and negative experiences constitutes maternal ambivalence which arises from the contradictory nature of motherhood represented by opposing feelings and emotions. A descriptive cross-sectional study was conducted to explore women’s experiences of motherhood using focus group discussions. Participants were drawn from randomly selected health facilities within Lusaka province. Data were analysed using thematic analysis and involved identifying themes on women’s construction of motherhood. Women constructed motherhood as an ambivalent experience given that both positive and negative experiences occurred simultaneously. The positive experiences reported by mothers included a sense of prestige, future investment and cementing of marital relation that accompanied the birth of a child, while negative experiences include vulnerability to diseases like HIV, diminishing social support and compromised decision making powers. The occurrence of both positive and negative experiences in the same woman underscores the complexity of motherhood. Maternal ambivalence therefore should be held as a normal component of the processes and experiences of motherhood.
Key words: Ambivalence, antenatal, postnatal, motherhood, experiences.
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