The transition to parenthood in obstetrics: enhancing prenatal care for 2-generation impact

Catherine Monk, Sona Dimidjian, Ellen Galinsky, Kimberly D. Gregory, M. Camille Hoffman, Elizabeth A. Howell, Emily S. Miller, Cynthia Osborne, Cynthia E. Rogers, Darby E. Saxbe, Mary E. D'Alton

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Obstetrics, the specialty overseeing infant and parent health before birth, could be expanded to address the interrelated areas of parents’ prenatal impact on children's brain development and their own psychosocial needs during a time of immense change and neuroplasticity. Obstetrics is primed for the shift that is happening in pediatrics, which is moving from its traditional focus on physical health to a coordinated, whole-child, 2- or multigeneration approach. Pediatric care now includes developmental screening, parenting education, parent coaching, access to developmental specialists, brain-building caregiving skills, linkages to community resources, and tiered interventions with psychologists. Drawing on decades of developmental origins of health and disease research highlighting the prenatal beginnings of future health and new studies on the transition to parenthood describing adult development from pregnancy to early postpartum, we have proposed that, similar to pediatrics, the integration of education and intervention strategies into the prenatal care ecosystem should be tested for its potential to improve child cognitive and social-emotional development and parental mental health. Pediatric care programs can serve as models of change for the systematic development, testing and, incorporation of new content into prenatal care as universal, first-tier treatment and evidenced-based, triaged interventions according to the level of need. To promote optimal beginnings for the whole family, we have proposed an augmented prenatal care ecosystem that aligns with, and could build on, current major efforts to enhance perinatal care individualization through consideration of medical, social, and structural determinants of health.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100678
JournalAmerican journal of obstetrics & gynecology MFM
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2022


  • brain development
  • care individualization
  • cognitive development
  • expectant parent
  • fetal development
  • mental health
  • neurodevelopment
  • neuroplasticity
  • prenatal programming
  • prenatal stress
  • reproductive justice
  • social support
  • social-emotional development
  • whole person


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