Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

'Super-parent' cultural pressures can spur mental health conditions in new moms and dads

18.08.2014

Mental health experts in the past three decades have emphasized the dangers of post-partum depression for mothers, but a University of Kansas researcher says expanding awareness of several other perinatal mental health conditions is important for all new parents, including fathers.

This awareness has become even more critical as "super mom" and "super dad" pressures continue to grow, said Carrie Wendel-Hummell, a KU doctoral candidate in sociology, who will present her study on perinatal mental health disorders at the 109th Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association. Perinatal is a term that describes the several weeks before, during, and after birth.

"Both mothers and fathers need to pay attention to their mental health during the perinatal period, and they need to watch for these other types of conditions, not just depression," she said. "Anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, psychosis, and bi-polar disorder are all shaped by circumstances that surround having a baby."

As part of her research, Wendel-Hummell who is also a project manager at KU's Center for Research on Aging and Disability Options in the School of Social Welfare, conducted qualitative in-depth interviews with 17 new fathers and 30 new mothers primarily from Kansas and Missouri.

The sample covered a range of low-income to middle-class parents. She did not require a diagnosis of a perinatal mental health condition, but all participants had experienced prolonged symptoms of at least one.

According to Wendel-Hummell, a major focus of her research is to bring together biological and sociological understandings of the problems that new parents face. Medical researchers for years had attributed post-partum depression in new mothers to hormonal changes, despite evidence to the contrary.

"It has been framed so much as being a hormonal disorder, but the evidence there is actually very limited," she said. "Child birth itself is a life change and a life stressor, so actually there's far more evidence that those risk factors are the cause, more so than hormones."

Distressed mothers and fathers in the interviews generally voiced concerns about social problems, including cultural expectations of parenting, relationship stress, family-work balance issues, and struggles with poverty.

At the root of their perinatal mental health issues, low-income parents in the interviews mentioned ongoing struggles to tend to their infant's basic needs in the face of low wages and job insecurity, as well as to secure affordable quality childcare, reliable transportation, and safe housing.

These parents were often unable to afford mental health treatment. Frequently, pregnancy-based Medicaid is cut off after a post birth appointment, which prevents coverage of treatment of post-partum depression or other post-pregnancy mental health disorders, Wendel-Hummell said.

"They aren't getting the support they need," she said.

In terms of middle-class parents, Wendel-Hummell said these people tend to put too much pressure on themselves to be perfect mothers and fathers.

"Middle-class mothers often try to do everything to balance work and home life, and fathers are increasingly attempting to do the same," she said. "This pressure can exacerbate mental health conditions. If everything is not perfect, they feel like failures — and mothers tend to internalize that guilt."

Fathers in her study often suffered stress from working in places that did not have family friendly leave policies and from generally lacking resources to prepare them for fatherhood, Wendel-Hummell said.

Most people also tend to focus on the mother and baby.

"Nobody is asking about the father and how he's doing," she said. "People typically focus on the mom and the infant, so not only is it more difficult for men to express their emotions, nobody is opening up that window for them either."

Wendel-Hummell believes we need to recognize the prevalence of these additional perinatal mental health conditions and, in addition, find ways to screen for them.

"We really only have a screening procedure for depression," she said. "There should be improved screening, and it should be done in the later stages of women's pregnancy and throughout that first year after the baby is born, for both mothers and fathers."

Wendel-Hummell said focusing on implementing social policies (e.g paid maternity and paternity leave, sick pay, and accessible health care coverage) that address the mental health challenges many new parents face is essential. She also emphasizes the need to adjust the cultural expectations around parenting, including reducing pressures to be the perfect parent who can do everything on his or her own, and encouraging parents to accept support from family, friends, and their community.

"We focus way too much on, 'how do we fix this individual,' but we really need to address the state of social and family policy," Wendel-Hummell said.

###

About the American Sociological Association

The American Sociological Association, founded in 1905, is a non-profit membership association dedicated to serving sociologists in their work, advancing sociology as a science and profession, and promoting the contributions to and use of sociology by society.

The paper, "Nature and Culture: Lay Accounts of Perinatal Mental Health Disorders," will be presented on Monday, Aug. 18, at 2:30 p.m. PDT in San Francisco at the American Sociological Association's 109th Annual Meeting.

To obtain a copy of the paper; for assistance reaching the study's author(s); or for more information on other ASA presentations, members of the media can contact Daniel Fowler, ASA Media Relations Manager, at (202) 527-7885 or pubinfo@asanet.org. During the Annual Meeting (Aug. 16-19), ASA Public Information Office staff can be reached in the on-site press office, located in the Hilton San Francisco Union Square's Union Square 1-2 Room, at (415) 923-7506 or (914) 450-4557 (cell).

This press release was written by George Diepenbrock, Public Affairs Officer, University of Kansas. For more information about the study, members of the media can also contact Diepenbrock at (785) 864-8853 or gdiepenbrock@ku.edu.

Papers presented at the ASA Annual Meeting are typically working papers that have not yet been published in peer reviewed journals.

Daniel Fowler | Eurek Alert!
Further information:
http://www.asanet.org

Further reports about: Perinatal Sociological disorder expectations pressure pressures problems

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Innovative genetic tests for children with developmental disorders and epilepsy
11.07.2018 | Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel

nachricht Oxygen loss in the coastal Baltic Sea is “unprecedentedly severe”
05.07.2018 | European Geosciences Union

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: First evidence on the source of extragalactic particles

For the first time ever, scientists have determined the cosmic origin of highest-energy neutrinos. A research group led by IceCube scientist Elisa Resconi, spokesperson of the Collaborative Research Center SFB1258 at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), provides an important piece of evidence that the particles detected by the IceCube neutrino telescope at the South Pole originate from a galaxy four billion light-years away from Earth.

To rule out other origins with certainty, the team led by neutrino physicist Elisa Resconi from the Technical University of Munich and multi-wavelength...

Im Focus: Magnetic vortices: Two independent magnetic skyrmion phases discovered in a single material

For the first time a team of researchers have discovered two different phases of magnetic skyrmions in a single material. Physicists of the Technical Universities of Munich and Dresden and the University of Cologne can now better study and understand the properties of these magnetic structures, which are important for both basic research and applications.

Whirlpools are an everyday experience in a bath tub: When the water is drained a circular vortex is formed. Typically, such whirls are rather stable. Similar...

Im Focus: Breaking the bond: To take part or not?

Physicists working with Roland Wester at the University of Innsbruck have investigated if and how chemical reactions can be influenced by targeted vibrational excitation of the reactants. They were able to demonstrate that excitation with a laser beam does not affect the efficiency of a chemical exchange reaction and that the excited molecular group acts only as a spectator in the reaction.

A frequently used reaction in organic chemistry is nucleophilic substitution. It plays, for example, an important role in in the synthesis of new chemical...

Im Focus: New 2D Spectroscopy Methods

Optical spectroscopy allows investigating the energy structure and dynamic properties of complex quantum systems. Researchers from the University of Würzburg present two new approaches of coherent two-dimensional spectroscopy.

"Put an excitation into the system and observe how it evolves." According to physicist Professor Tobias Brixner, this is the credo of optical spectroscopy....

Im Focus: Chemical reactions in the light of ultrashort X-ray pulses from free-electron lasers

Ultra-short, high-intensity X-ray flashes open the door to the foundations of chemical reactions. Free-electron lasers generate these kinds of pulses, but there is a catch: the pulses vary in duration and energy. An international research team has now presented a solution: Using a ring of 16 detectors and a circularly polarized laser beam, they can determine both factors with attosecond accuracy.

Free-electron lasers (FELs) generate extremely short and intense X-ray flashes. Researchers can use these flashes to resolve structures with diameters on the...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Leading experts in Diabetes, Metabolism and Biomedical Engineering discuss Precision Medicine

13.07.2018 | Event News

Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP: Fine Tuning for Surfaces

12.07.2018 | Event News

11th European Wood-based Panel Symposium 2018: Meeting point for the wood-based materials industry

03.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Nano-kirigami: 'Paper-cut' provides model for 3D intelligent nanofabrication

16.07.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

New players, standardization and digitalization for more rail freight transport

16.07.2018 | Transportation and Logistics

Researchers discover natural product that could lead to new class of commercial herbicide

16.07.2018 | Agricultural and Forestry Science

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>