Dr. Jennifer Weaver
Mother’s level of prenatal depressive symptoms can affect maternal health and infant behavior. Misri and colleagues (2010) demonstrated a link between prenatal depression and later parental stress in a clinical sample of 94 mothers. Parental stress can be defined as difficulty in engaging in a parenting role (Leigh & Milgrom, 2008). The current study tested the hypothesis that mothers who experienced greater prenatal depressive symptoms would experience greater prenatal stress postpartum.
Sixty primiparous mother participated in the 6-month longitudinal study. The CES-D scale (Radloff, 1977) measured prenatal depression and the Abidin Parental Stress Index (PSI) (Role Restriction and Competence) was used at 3 and 6 months timepoint.
Two exploratory regression analyses were performed to predict average role restriction and average parenting competence from the PSI, controlling for age, education, ethnicity, and partner status.
Results suggest revealed mothers who experienced higher levels of prenatal depressive symptoms reported reduced competence, and they experienced greater restrictions in their new role as a parent. Results of these analyses suggest the importance of sustained attention to mother’s prenatal mental health, as it can be an important precursor to difficulties in handling the parenting role, which may have future negative consequences for child well-being.
Elizarraras, Jitka, "Maternal Prenatal Depressive Symptoms Predict Parental Stress" (2021). 2021 Undergraduate Research Showcase. 79.