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This content will become publicly available on October 6, 2024

Title: Maternal stress: The first 14 months postpartum
Objective. Maternal stress is a psychological response to the demands of motherhood. A high level of maternal stress is a risk factor for maternal mental health problems, including depression and anxiety, as well as adverse infant socioemotional and cognitive outcomes. Yet, levels of maternal stress (i.e., levels of stress related to parenting) among low-risk samples are rarely studied longitudinally, particularly in the first year after birth. Design. We measured maternal stress in an ethnically diverse sample of low-risk, healthy U.S. mothers of healthy infants (N = 143) living in South Florida across six time points between 2 weeks and 14 months postpartum using the Parenting Stress Index-Short Form, capturing stress related to the mother, mother-infant interactions, and the infant. Results. Maternal distress increased as infants aged for mothers with more than one child, but not for first-time mothers whose distress levels remained low and stable across this period. Stress related to mother-infant dysfunctional interactions lessened over the first 8 months. Mothers’ stress about their infants’ difficulties decreased from 2 weeks to 6 months, and subsequently increased from 6 to 14 months. Conclusions. Our findings suggest that maternal stress is dynamic across the first year after birth. The current study adds to our understanding of typical developmental patterns in early motherhood and identifies potential domains and time points as targets for future interventions.  more » « less
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Author(s) / Creator(s):
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Journal Name:
Parenting: Science and Practice
Subject(s) / Keyword(s):
["parenting stress","motherhood","infancy","parity","longitudinal","maternal well-being"]
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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