Maternal mental health during the neonatal period: Relationships to the occupation of parenting

Rachel Harris, Deanna Gibbs, Kathryn Mangin-Heimos, Roberta Pineda

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

7 Scopus citations


Purpose: To (1) examine the extent of a range of early mental health challenges in mothers with a very preterm infant hospitalized in the NICU and mothers of full-term infants, (2) identify family social background and infant medical factors associated with higher levels of maternal psychological distress, and (3) assess the relationship between maternal psychological distress and maternal perceptions of the parenting role, parenting confidence and NICU engagement. Methods: At hospital discharge 37 mothers of very preterm infants (≤32 weeks gestation) and 47 mothers of full-term infants (≥37 weeks gestation) completed structured assessments of their psychological wellbeing and transition to parenting. Mothers of very preterm infants were also questioned about their NICU visitation and involvement in infant care. Results: Sixty-four percent (n = 54) of mothers experienced psychological distress (n = 26, 70% of preterm; n = 28, 60% of full-term). Lower infant birthweight was associated with maternal psychological distress (p =.03). Mothers of very preterm infants had significantly more psychological distress related to having a Cesarean section delivery (p =.02). Higher levels of psychological distress were associated with lower levels of parenting confidence in mothers of both very preterm and full-term infants (p <.02). Conclusion: Although parents of very preterm infants have higher rates of maternal mental health challenges, mothers of full-term infants at high social risk are also impacted.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)31-39
Number of pages9
JournalEarly Human Development
StatePublished - May 2018


  • NICU
  • Parenting
  • Postnatal
  • Preterm
  • Psychology

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Maternal mental health during the neonatal period: Relationships to the occupation of parenting'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • Cite this