Employee entitlements during pregnancy and maternal psychological well-being Academic Article uri icon


  • BACKGROUND: Antenatal psychological well-being is multifactorially determined, including by social circumstances. Evidence suggests that workplace conditions are salient determinants of mental health, but it is not known whether employment conditions influence antenatal psychological well-being. AIMS: To investigate the relationship between employment conditions and antenatal psychological well-being in Australian women. METHODS: A sociodemographically diverse consecutive cohort of employed nulliparous women was recruited in late pregnancy. Data were collected by a structured interview assessing sociodemographic characteristics, employment arrangements, experience of pregnancy-related discrimination, and access to maternity leave entitlements. Participants completed two standardised psychometric measures of maternal mood: the Edinburgh Depression Scale (EDS) and the Profile of Mood States (PoMS). Comparisons of self-reported mood were made between women by experience of workplace adversity, using a composite measure of workplace events. RESULTS: Of 205 eligible women, 165 agreed to participate. Of these, 114 of 165 (69%) reported at least one form of workplace adversity during pregnancy. More women without private health insurance (78%) reported workplace adversity than those who were privately insured (57%) (chi2(1)=6.95, P=0.008). Women experiencing workplace adversity had significantly worse psychological well-being as indicated by the EDS score (7.7+/-5.1) than those who were experiencing no workplace adversity (5.5+/-3.4), mean difference (95% CI)=-2.2 (-3.7 to -0.8), P=0.003. Similar results were reported for the PoMS. CONCLUSIONS: Workplace adversity during pregnancy is associated with poorer maternal psychological well-being. Workplace conditions and entitlements are salient factors for consideration in assessments of antenatal psychosocial well-being.

publication date

  • December 2007