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Expectations, Motherhood, Parental attitudes, Quality of life



  1. Adams, Mary K. PhD, RN
  2. Byrn, Mary PhD, RN
  3. Penckofer, Sue PhD, RN, FAAN
  4. Bryant, Fred PhD
  5. Almonte, Angelica PhD, RN


Purpose: The purpose of this study was to examine 1) discrepancies between expectations of motherhood and the experience of motherhood in the first 6 to 12 weeks postpartum, 2) relationships between maternal quality of life, mood, parental attitudes, and expectations, and 3) predictors of quality of life.


Study Design and Methods: We used a descriptive, correlational design. The sample consisted of first-time mothers who were at or beyond 34 weeks pregnant with no reported history of anxiety or depression. The following questionnaires were administered during pregnancy and 6 to 12 weeks postpartum: Parenting Expectations Measure, General Anxiety Disorder 7, Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Screen, Intensive Parenting Attitudes Questionnaire, and Ferrans and Powers Quality of Life Index.


Results: Sixty-one mothers participated. Based on scores from the Parenting Expectations Measure, 44% of participants had expectations of motherhood that were not met. Expectations were a significant predictor of quality of life during pregnancy and postpartum.


Clinical Implications: Unmet expectations are important to understand when identifying modifiable risk factors of postpartum anxiety and depression in women without other risk factors. A discussion of expectations during antepartum care may minimize poor quality of life which is associated with anxiety and depression in women without anxiety and depressive symptoms.