Maternal anxiety, risk factors and parenting in the first post-natal year Academic Article uri icon


  • The antecedents and consequences of maternal post-natal anxiety have received comparatively less attention than depression despite being one of the most frequently reported mental health difficulties experienced by parents following childbirth. The aim of this study was to extend emerging literature on post-natal anxiety by investigating the prevalence of maternal anxiety symptoms, and its relationship with parenting behaviours (i.e. warmth, hostility) and experiences (i.e. parenting efficacy and satisfaction) within the first post-natal year. The psychosocial risk factors for post-natal anxiety symptoms were also explored.A community sample of 224 Australian mothers of infants (aged 0-12 months) completed a self-report questionnaire.Mothers in the current sample reported significantly more symptoms of anxiety compared with a normative sample. Approximately 18% of mothers reported mild to extremely severe symptoms of anxiety, with a high proportion experiencing co-morbid depressive symptoms. Maternal anxiety was associated with low parenting warmth, involvement, efficacy and satisfaction, and high parenting hostility. Yet, co-morbid depression and anxiety was more strongly associated with these parenting behaviours and experiences than anxiety alone.A range of psychosocial risk factors (e.g. education, sleep, relationship quality) were associated with maternal post-natal anxiety symptoms, providing opportunities for early identification and targeted early intervention.

publication date

  • 2015