Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Doctor of Philosophy


Health and Rehabilitation Sciences


Dr. Sandra DeLuca


Little is known about working mothers who practice mindfulness. This dissertation is a phenomenological investigation using body mapping as a way to understand how mindfulness works in the lives of six women who work in health and social care while parenting young children.

This dissertation is comprised of five integrated articles. Chapter 1 and 7 are included as an Introduction and Discussion/Conclusion to the five separate though related manuscript chapters. The main research questions that framed this research include, ‘What is the work of mindfulness in the lives of working professional mothers?’ and ‘In what ways might a mindfulness practice help women navigate their role as a working mother with young children?’.

Each of the five manuscripts offer something unique to this work. The first manuscript, Chapter 2, uses literature to explore how mindfulness can support early years practitioners in developing a more critical and nuanced understanding of how social constructions of motherhood shape practice. In the second manuscript, chapter 3, I again use literature to explore mindfulness as a construct and how it has the potential to enhance professional practices. The third manuscript, Chapter 4, is more theoretical and philosophical and explores how phenomenology can fruitfully pair with mindfulness in a qualitative study such as this one. The fourth manuscript, chapter 5, is the first of two manuscripts that originate from the empirical study. The six women’s constructed body maps where analyzed to better understand how mindfulness works in their lives. The fifth manuscript, chapter 6, explores body mapping as a method and what it can contribute to social research.

Findings include an appreciation for how mindfulness may help mothers critically reflect on normative expectations for working women. This thesis contributes to the growing body of work that appreciates the work of mindfulness. Specifically I suggest that mindfulness may inspire professional mothers to rethink practices and beliefs that may ultimately advance the position of women and children. The research seeks to ignite conversations that have implications for Canadian families, and health and social care professional education practices.