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Predictors of early postpartum maternal functioning among women veterans

APA Citation:

Goger, P., Szpunar, M. J., Baca, S. A., Gartstein, M. A., & Lang, A. J. (2022). Predictors of early postpartum maternal functioning among women veterans. Maternal and Child Health Journal, 26, 149 – 155. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10995-021-03241-0

Abstract Created by REACH:

Veteran mothers may be more likely to experience mental health concerns due to past combat exposure. This study examined whether Veteran mothers’ mental health during pregnancy is a determinant of postpartum mental well-being and attachment to the infant. 28 Veteran mothers completed questionnaires during their pregnancy (i.e., 3rd trimester) and postpartum (i.e., 6 weeks after birth). During pregnancy, Veteran mothers provided reports on depressive and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms and pregnancy-related anxiety. Postpartum, Veteran mothers reported on their depressive and PTSD symptoms, as well as detached feelings toward the infant (i.e., anger, anxiety, rejection) and parenting stress. In general, Veteran mothers’ postpartum depression was more strongly linked to parenting outcomes (i.e., stress, bonding) than their mental health during pregnancy.

Focus:

Parents
Mental health
Veterans

Branch of Service:

Multiple branches

Military Affiliation:

Veteran

Subject Affiliation:

Veteran

Population:

Adulthood (18 yrs & older)
Young adulthood (18 - 29 yrs)
Thirties (30 - 39 yrs)

Methodology:

Quantitative study
Longitudinal Study

Authors:

Goger, Pauline, Szpunar, Mercedes J., Baca, Selena A., Gartstein, Masha A., Lang, Ariel J.

Abstract:

Introduction The perinatal period constitutes an important window of opportunity for optimizing healthy development of offspring but is heavily influenced by maternal mental health. Maternal pregnancy-related anxiety (PrA), depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) have been implicated in adverse outcomes for both mother and child. The current study examined whether psychopathology during pregnancy and postpartum was associated with greater experienced parenting stress and bonding difficulties in women veterans, who may be predisposed to develop psychopathology due to heightened risk of exposure to traumatic events. Methods Pregnant veterans (N = 28) completed self-report questionnaires regarding their PrA, depression and PTSD symptoms during pregnancy and postpartum, as well as on their experience of parenting stress and bonding with their infant. Results PrA was a more robust predictor of postpartum depression (PPD) than depression during pregnancy. PPD, in turn, was significantly associated with bonding and parenting stress, such that more depressed mothers were more likely to experience greater general bonding difficulties, increased rejections and pathological anger towards their infants, greater anxiety towards their infants, and more parenting stress. Conclusions PrA might be a high-yield modifiable risk factor in the prevention of PPD for women veterans and their subsequent experiences with high parenting stress and bonding difficulties.

Publisher/Sponsoring Organization:

Springer Nature

Publication Type:

Article
REACH Publication

Author Affiliation:

San Diego State University (SDSU)/University of California, PG
Massachusetts General Hospital, MJS
University of Kansas, SAB
Washington State University, MAG
Veterans Affairs San Diego Healthcare System, AJL

Keywords:

postpartum depression, women veterans, mental depression, psychopathology

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REACH Publication Type:

Research Summary

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