The aim of the study was to ascertain those factors that are related to the way first-time mothers assess themselves to be coping with child care when leaving the maternity hospital. The study is part of a wider longitudinal project that follows-up first-time mothers' growth into motherhood for a period of 8 months after the birth. Data collection was done using a questionnaire distributed between January and May 1995. The sample comprised 271 first time mothers. The mothers completed the questionnaire on average on the fifth day after childbirth. A stepwise regression analysis was applied. The mothers who assessed themselves to be coping better with child care were those who went home feeling rested and in a good frame of mind and who had positive experience of child care in the maternity ward. The more functional support the mother perceived herself to receive from members of her social network the better she assessed herself to be coping with child care. Those mothers who had previous experience of taking care of infants also assessed themselves to be coping better with child care. On the basis of the research findings it may be stated that the first-time mother needs support from both nursing professionals and close relatives in order to trust their own abilities to cope better with child care during early motherhood.