Promoting the transition to parenthood : the effects of anticipatory guidance on the transition to parenthood among first time parents
In an attempt to promote the psychological well-being of new parents during he transition to parenthood, the "Promoting Parenthood Project" was established in Ayrshire and Arran, Scotland. Models of Anticipatory Guidance (defined by three inter-related activities including the provision of factual information, the anticipation of common psychological reactions to pregnancy, birth and early parenting and the mobilisation of coping resources) were examined in a comparative outcome study based within the context of existing local NHS ante-natal education provision. Significant differences were observed among the entire sample over time which supported earlier findings reported in the transition to parenthood literature. Specifically, findings corroborated earlier evidence suggesting that new parents experience a statistically significant decline in relationship satisfaction (as defined in this study by decreasing affectional expression) and that maximal relationship dissatisfaction appears to occur within the first three post-natal months. Interestingly, although gender differences were observed on measures of individual psychological well-being, relationship-based gender differences (with women experiencing significantly greater relationship dissatisfaction/greater dissatisfaction with partner's instrumental role performance than men) were not observed. Reasons for the findings obtained in the study were explored and future research options were discussed. The study raised substantive issues for future transition to parenthood research (including issues in changing cultural understandings of gender and parenthood), mental health promotion theory (including issues in the role of mental health promotion in the context of normative life-events) and practice-based issues for Midwifery and Clinical Psychology in the current NHS. Each of these issues was considered in detail.