Autistic mothers' perinatal well-being and parenting styles.
LAY ABSTRACT: Autistic people can have difficulties during pregnancy and after giving birth, such as difficulty getting health care that meets their needs. Autistic people may therefore have lower well-being than non-autistic people during this time. We asked autistic and non-autistic people to fill in questionnaires measuring stress, depression, anxiety and satisfaction with life. They were asked to do this once during pregnancy, once 2 to 3 months after giving birth and once 6 months after giving birth. At 6 months after giving birth, they also filled in questionnaires about parenting. The autistic parents had higher stress, depression and anxiety scores than the non-autistic parents. For both groups, scores for anxiety went down over time. There were no differences between the groups on satisfaction with their life or how confident they were as a parent. There were no differences between the groups on most areas of parenting style, although autistic parents scored lower on parenting discipline. This study suggests that autistic people may be more stressed, depressed and anxious than non-autistic people during pregnancy and after giving birth. Autistic people therefore need good quality support during this time. This study also suggests that autistic and non-autistic parents may be just as likely to parent in positive ways such as being sensitive to their baby's needs.