Maternal Adaptation Of Younger And Older, Employed And Unemployed, First-Time Mothers (postpartum, Pregnancy)

Date of Award




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


Counseling Psychology


The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of previously employed, first-time mothers' stage in the adult life cycle and postpartum employment plans upon maternal adaptation. Measures of depression, anxiety, self-concept, recent stress, and social alienation were utilized to examine maternal adaptation.Seventy-one previously employed, first-time mothers who met the specified age criteria for younger or older age categorization were included. Additional categorization regarding employed or unemployed status was determined postpartum as mothers declared their postpartum employment plans. First measurements were completed in the eighth month of pregnancy and second measurements were completed six weeks postpartum.Analysis of covariance, analysis of variance, and orthogonal contrasts were used to investigate the maternal adaptation variables. Postpartum depression and anxiety were found to be greater for the previously employed, older, first-time mothers who had plans to interrupt their employment and remain home with their babies for one year or longer. No differences were found in self-concept, recent stress, or social alienation. Examined singularly, neither age nor postpartum employment status was found to increase the likelihood of any of the maternal adaptation difficulties.Lending support to both social stress theory and timing of events theory, the results of this study substantiate the premise that the combination of delaying first maternal experience to a later stage in the adult life cycle and interrupting employment for one year or longer are cumulative stressors that increase the likelihood of postpartum depression and anxiety. The present research has expanded the understanding of the first maternal adaptation process and has further demonstrated the complexity of both predicting and detecting maternal adaptation difficulties.


Psychology, Clinical

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