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Table 1 Thematic summary of the data

From: Constructions and experiences of motherhood in the context of an early intervention for Aboriginal mothers and their children: mother and healthcare worker perspectives

Constructions of motherhood: Health Care Worker Accounts Mothers’ accounts
The resilient mother: Coping with early life trauma and social stress Absence of parenting
 “She is very upset and distressed in thinking about her own mother. She has always said that is never going to happen to him, referring to her own son”.
Social stress
 “Many are finding the housing situation is very stressful for them and inadequate, really. One woman in the group, she’s got four children aged 8 down to one year, and she lives in a two-bedroom unit with one bathroom”.
 “Children are demanding and it’s pretty, a pretty tough gig being a mum and some of them are single, and wow that’s even more hard, so I think that the strength of some of these mums is pretty amazing stuff.”
Absence of parenting
 “I didn’t have the best childhood. And I felt towards my own child, after the way I was treated, what if I did the same to my own child? It was always in my head that it could have been better for me. I don’t want my son to have the same things happen to him. I was thinking about it all the time.”
Social stress
 “Things were pretty hard for me, my partner wasn’t here when I had my baby, he was in gaol. My mother moved into my apartment to help me. Mentally it was too much to deal with.”
 “That’s not all there is to us. We want to give our kids a better life and that needs to be recognised. Sometimes I feel like people don’t want to let us move past where we’re from to something different”.
The good mother: Transformation of self through motherhood  “I think our mums show a lot of pride in their children because they all look very clean, they dress them well, they dress them suitably for the weather, they show that pride and care. I don’t think that’s out of fear, I think that’s just they are loving and good mums”.  “I’m really happy to be a mum, I find it probably one of the best things I have ever had to do in my life. I think I’ve become a lot more mature and a lot more confident in myself”
 “[being a mum has] made me a better person because before then, I really had no one because I hadn’t talked to my mum and dad, and so it was just literally me. It made me a bit more happy and it’s a great feeling being a mother”.
 “I have purpose now”
Perspectives on the intervention: Health Care Worker Accounts Mothers’ accounts
“Mothers come to life”: Transformation through therapy  “She was very short with her daughter and quite grumpy, whenever the daughter wanted her attention. Now I see her imitating the other mums in the group or imitating our behaviour, being very, very hands on and listening to the children. She’s now more attentive to her daughter’s needs”.
 “A lot of them got stronger as we spend weeks together and months… you see moments where you go, wow, that’s a bit different from the beginning…it’s just learning and growing with each other and I think the mums just, this place makes them stronger about being a mum, and the role of the mother.”
 “[the group] has given me a lot more confidence because like, when I was pregnant with (child), I did have people question me, why am I pregnant and a young mum. And I was just really upset about it and I guess that’s what the group’s given me, is that confidence to just be myself and be happy that I have (child)”.
 “[the group] motivates me to be a good mum and everything. I don’t think what I’m doing is any different to any other mum, and I feel like all mums have to learn, no matter what age they are, like we’re not taught how to be a mum, it just comes naturally”
“I know I’m a good mum”: The need for connections, skills and time for self.  “It’s really powerful that their children will grow older and remember the times that they saw their mother sitting around creating art and even if it inspires one of them, that’s what we aim to do”
 “They care about each other. There’s a sense of camaraderie, they care about each other’s children and you know, notice the development of other people’s babies”.
 “I think being together, being together and a shared experience of mothering. I think that’s what groups do very well. I think it’s in a sense they’ve got a history together now of over a year, they’ve got a history with their kids and they do enjoy the milestones of each of the children, they enjoy all that with each other which is a lovely support I think.”
 “When we’re doing our paintings, we talk to each other. That’s good sometimes, just to see where the other mums are at. I’m home alone with (my child) the rest of the week so it’s good to just talk about things with someone who is, you know, in the same boat. Who’s not gonna judge you if you’re having a hard time”
 “I like to paint, I haven’t painted for years, so it was nice to be able to relax and just go into another room where I can just paint. I don’t get time to do anything like that at home. When I come here I can just focus on that and be a bit free up, in my head, you know?”
 “When I get there, all I want to do is sit down, because it’s my only break to sit and talk to people. So, yeah, it’s a big socialising thing for me”.