Reaction and Adaptation to the Birth of a Child: A Couple-Level Analysis

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Abstract

The present study explored how life satisfaction changes before and after childbirth among first-time parents from a nationally representative, longitudinal study of Germans. Life satisfaction increased before pregnancy to a peak just after birth and then returned to the baseline level within 2 years postpartum. The 2 members of the same couple reacted and adapted to childbirth in similar ways, suggesting that something about the event itself (rather than the individuals' personality) affects individual differences in these responses. However, some personality characteristics (including neuroticism and openness) did moderate reaction and adaptation effects.

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