Motherhood during or after breast cancer diagnosis: A qualitative study

Chiara Ionio, Eleonora Mascheroni, Flavia Faccio, Gabriella Pravettoni, Fedro Alessandro Peccatori, Camilla Pisoni, Chiara Cassani, Sara Zambelli, Anna Zilioli, Giuseppe Nastasi, Nicola Giuntini, Lucia Bonassi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

4 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: Little is known about the process of becoming a mother in women who experienced a breast cancer diagnosis (BC). In this qualitative study, we investigated maternal representations in pregnant women with experience of BC and those with no oncological history. Methods: A total of 38 women were recruited, 19 women who experienced a BC diagnosis and 19 who had not. To explore maternal representations, semi-structured interviews were conducted and analysed through thematic analysis. Results: Four main themes were identified: fears and worries, meaning of motherhood, mother–foetus relationship and partner support. Across themes, differences between primiparous and multiparous are reported. Women with gestational breast cancer (GBC) described fear for their own and their child's survival. Women with previous BC recall contrasting emotions. All women with experience of BC perceived breastfeeding as fundamental and inability to do so provoked worry. Relationship with the partner was considered central, while healthy women were projected towards the future triadic relationship. Conclusions: Finding a mental space during pregnancy for the representation of the future child could be hard for women with GBC. Dissimilarities in the experience of motherhood in cancer patients provide insight into psychological aspects that should be taken into account in clinical practice.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-9
Number of pages9
JournalEuropean Journal of Cancer Care
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • breast cancer
  • cancer survivors
  • maternal–foetal relations
  • pregnancy
  • psychological


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