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Transition to parenthood and mental health in first-time parents

Parfitt, Y. & Ayers, S. (2014). Transition to parenthood and mental health in first-time parents. Infant Mental Health Journal, 35(3), pp. 263-273. doi: 10.1002/imhj.21443


This study aimed to examine the transition to parenthood and mental health in first-time parents in detail and explore any differences in this transition in the context of parental gender and postpartum mental health. Semistructured clinical interviews (Birmingham Interview for Maternal Mental Health) were carried out with 46 women and 40 men, 5 months after birth. Parents were assessed on pre- and postpartum anxiety, depression, and postpartum posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and a range of adjustment and relationship variables. One fourth of the men and women reported anxiety in pregnancy, reducing to 21% of women and 8% of men after birth. Pregnancy and postpartum depression rates were roughly equal, with 11% of women and 8% of men reporting depression. Postpartum PTSD was experienced by 5% of parents. Postpartum mental health problems were significantly associated with postpartum sleep deprivation (odds ratio [OR] = 7.5), complications in labor (OR = 5.1), lack of postpartum partner support (OR = 8.0), feelings of parental unworthiness (OR = 8.3), and anger toward the infant (OR = 4.4). Few gender differences were found for these variables. This study thus highlights the importance of focusing interventions on strengthening the couple's relationship and avoiding postnatal sleep deprivation, and to address parents’ feelings of parental unworthiness and feelings of anger toward their baby.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: This is the accepted version of the following article: Parfitt, Y. and Ayers, S. (2014), TRANSITION TO PARENTHOOD AND MENTAL HEALTH IN FIRST-TIME PARENTS. Infant Ment. Health J., 35: 263–273., which has been published in final form at
Subjects: R Medicine > RJ Pediatrics
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Nursing
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