Maternal concerns during early parenthood

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BackgroundMost research on maternal concerns has focused on their assessment during pregnancy and the early post-partum period. The aim of this study was to identify primary concerns of mothers later in the first post-partum year, changes over time, and factors that were associated with relatively intense concerns, including infant (difficult) temperament, hours employed out of the home and obstetrical complications during pregnancy or childbirth.MethodData were obtained from 366 first-time (Israeli) mothers at 3 and 6 months post-partum by employing a new tool, the Mothers' Concern Questionnaire, along with standardized questionnaires, administered by phone.ResultsAnalyses revealed six dimensions of concerns (Family Health, Return to Work, Mother's Well-being, Relationships/Support, Infant Care, and Spouse). Of these, issues related to returning to work and family health were of most concern, and ratings were higher at 3 months than at 6 months post-partum. Women with higher-than-average total concern scores perceived their infant as more difficult, were more likely to have experienced an obstetric complication, and worked more hours out of the house than women with lower-than-average scores.ConclusionsThe findings afford a first look at the profile of normative maternal concerns outside of the immediate post-partum period and identify factors that predict more intense concerns. These findings extend what we know about the issues of new mothers and can guide birth educators and help couples prepare themselves for parenthood.

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