Major and Classification
Dr. Darby Saxbe
Research Gateway Project
“Prenatal Anxiety and Relationship Satisfaction of First Time Parents”
Research has shown that as couples’ transition to parenthood, both partners often experience a decline in their relationship satisfaction. In addition, pregnancy-related anxiety is prevalent for both mothers and fathers. The current study examines the association between own and partner pregnancy-related anxiety and prenatal to postpartum changes in dyadic adjustment for first-time parents. Twenty-eight couples completed batteries of questionnaires, including the Pregnancy-Related Anxiety Scale administered prenatally and the Dyadic Adjustment Scale administered prenatally and postpartum. We ran multiple linear regression models predicting postpartum dyadic adjustment while controlling for prenatal levels. Associations for own and partner pregnancy-related anxiety were tested in the same model to isolate their unique contribution in predicting changes in dyadic adjustment. Results showed that for expectant fathers, neither own nor partner pregnancy-related anxiety was significantly associated with changes in dyadic adjustment. For expectant mothers, own pregnancy-related anxiety was significantly associated with decreases in total dyadic adjustment and dyadic cohesion. Pregnancy-related anxiety experienced prenatally by first time mothers may be related to changes in their own dyadic adjustment across transition to parenthood. In supporting expectant parents, attending to mothers’ pregnancy-related anxiety may have downstream effects on their postpartum relationship functioning.