Little is known about how parents make decisions about care for their child, especially first-time mothers returning to paid work after the birth of their first child. This paper investigates first-time mothers’ intentions and decisions for care of their child as they return to paid work. This study tracked 124 Australian first-time mothers from third trimester of pregnancy until 12 months postpartum. The investigation analysed intentions and choices of care. The key findings indicate that the women preferred care in the home by a known person, yet were often unable to access this care. Care in the home offered emotional security as the caregiver was known and ensured the child would have adequate attention. To choose a childcare setting where the staff were unknown to the mothers, they frequently relied on the reputation of the centre. However some parents did not feel supported when using childcare centres: they expressed concern over the staffing levels, the group sizes and the constant ill-health of their child in childcare centres. Policy on care for the child needs to consider parents’ preferences for care of the child, as all children are affected by parents’ decisions.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/wendy_boyd/38/