Worrying in the Wings: Negative Emotional Birth Memories in Mothers and Fathers Show Similar Associations with Perinatal Mood Disturbance and Delivery Mode

Published version
Repository DOI

Change log
Hughes, CH 
Foley, Sarah 
Devine, Rory T 
Holmes, Emily 
Boddington, Lucy 

Abstract Background: Negative birth experiences are associated with symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder in new mothers but have received much less attention in new fathers. Methods: A sample of 322 first-time expectant couples (196 in the UK and 126 in the USA) rated their symptoms of anxiety and depression in the third trimester and at 4-months post birth (234 natural delivery, 88 caesarean section), when they also completed the emotional memories subscale of the BirthMARQ (Foley, Crawley, Wilkie, & Ayers, 2014). We first examined parent gender, mode of delivery (natural birth versus caesarean section) and study site (UK versus USA) as predictors of BirthMARQ scores. Next, we applied Actor-Partner-Interdependence-Modelling (APIM) to investigate intra- and interpersonal associations between birth experiences and latent factors for antenatal and postnatal depression/anxiety in both mothers and fathers. Results: Reports of negative birth experiences were more common for mothers than fathers, for parents of babies born by caesarean section than vaginal delivery and for UK parents than for USA parents. Within-couple agreement was moderately strong and individual differences in negative birth memories were associated with latent factors for depression/anxiety at both time-points, for both parents; in addition, there was a marginal mediation effect of negative birth memories in relation to the association between birth via caesarean section and reduced postnatal maternal wellbeing. Conclusions: Our findings highlight the links between birth experiences and wellbeing for both mothers and fathers and so support the development of partner-inclusive intervention strategies. Key words: birth experience, depression, anxiety, mothers, fathers, delivery

Anxiety, Birth experience, Delivery, Depression, Fathers, Mothers, Adult, Anxiety, Delivery, Obstetric, Depression, England, Fathers, Female, Humans, Male, Middle Aged, Mothers, Parturition, Postpartum Period, Pregnancy, Pregnancy Trimester, Third, Surveys and Questionnaires, United States, Young Adult
Journal Title
Archives of Women's Mental Health
Conference Name
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Springer Verlag
Economic and Social Research Council (ES/L016648/1)
NIHR Clinical Research Network Eastern (UKCRN 17386)
The research was funded by grants from the Economic and Social Research Council and National Science Foundation (ESRC: ES/ L016648/1 and NSF: 1429152).