The extent to which a mother’s prenatal expectations are realistic or unrealistic has been associated with postnatal adjustment in first-time mothers. This cross-sectional study investigated the associations with prenatal parenting expectations to determine what makes them more or less realistic. A mediational model was developed to explain the relationships between family and social support, maternal adjustment (i.e., depression, anxiety, worry, stress, and happiness), parenting self-efficacy, and prenatal expectations. We recruited 255 first-time expectant mothers living in Brisbane, Australia. Using structural equation modeling, we found that higher levels of social and family support were associated with lower levels of maternal maladjustment, which in turn was related to higher parental self-efficacy. Finally, self-efficacy was a significant positive predictor of prenatal parenting expectations, implying that the more confident mothers are, the more realistic are their parenting expectations during pregnancy. This was a fully mediated effect. Our findings are of particular relevance for the educational and counseling services offered to pregnant mothers. Specifically, they could assist health professionals in identifying mothers who may be prone to having unrealistic expectations and prepare them for the demands and challenges of having a new baby, which may prevent poor adjustment in the postnatal period.
Prevention Science – Springer Journals
Published: Jul 20, 2016
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