Worrying in the wings? Negative emotional birth memories in mothers and fathers show similar associations with perinatal mood disturbance and delivery mode

NewFAMS team Contributors, NewFAMS team Creators/Copyright Holders

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Negative birth experiences can lead to symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder in new mothers but have received much less attention in new fathers. A sample of 314 first-time expectant couples rated their symptoms of anxiety and depression in the third trimester and at 4-month post birth (227 vaginal delivery, 87 caesarean section), when they also completed the emotional memories subscale of the BirthMARQ (Foley et al. BMC Pregnancy Childbirth, 14, 211, 2014). We first examined mode of delivery (vaginal birth versus caesarean section) as a predictor of mothers’ and fathers’ BirthMARQ scores. Next, we used actor-partner interdependence model (APIM) to investigate intra- and interpersonal associations between birth experiences and maternal/paternal latent factors for antenatal and postnatal depression/anxiety. Reports of negative birth experiences were more common for mothers than fathers and for parents of babies born by caesarean section than by vaginal delivery. Within-couple agreement was moderately strong and, for both parents at both time-points, individual differences in negative birth memories were associated with symptoms of depression and anxiety. Negative birth memories also played a mediating role in the association between birth via caesarean section and reduced postnatal maternal wellbeing. Given the striking similarities between mothers and fathers in links between birth experiences and wellbeing, our findings highlight the need for partner-inclusive intervention strategies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)371-377
Number of pages7
JournalArchives of Women's Mental Health
Volume23
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 1 2020

Keywords

  • Anxiety
  • Birth experience
  • Delivery
  • Depression
  • Fathers
  • Mothers

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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