Exposure to Stress During Childbirth, Dyadic Adjustment, Partner’s Resilience, and Psychological Distress Among First-Time Fathers

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Abstract

This study examined posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms (PTSS) and anxiety symptoms among men attending the birth of their first offspring. Furthermore, the authors examined the moderating role of dyadic adjustment and participants’ partner’s resilience in the association between exposure to stress during birth and postpartum PTSS and anxiety symptoms. Most studies among men attending childbirth only examined depression symptoms. However, childbirth can be a potentially traumatic event that might result in postnatal PTSS and anxiety symptoms. This is a short-term longitudinal designed study. Participants were Israeli men (N = 171) who were assessed with self-report questionnaires during the third trimester of pregnancy and a month following birth. The rates of postnatal self-reported PTSS (1.2–2.3%) and anxiety symptoms (6%) were relatively low. Dyadic adjustment was negatively related to both PTSS and anxiety symptoms, whereas partner’s resilience was negatively related only to anxiety symptoms. Subjective exposure to stress during birth (T2) contributed to PTSS and anxiety in T2, above and beyond other negative life events and PTSS and anxiety in T1. In addition, dyadic adjustment, but not partner’s resilience, moderated the relations between subjective exposure to stress during birth and PTSS. Although men attending childbirth reported relatively low PTSS, some are troubled by anxiety-related symptoms. Importantly, low dyadic adjustment and, specifically, dyadic satisfaction during pregnancy, should be considered as a risk factor for PTSS and anxiety symptoms in men who perceived childbirth as stressful.

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