Preparing for Parenthood

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One of the most significant life transitions in adulthood is becoming a parent. Many prior studies found that many couples experiencing the transition to parenthood have a decrease in marital satisfaction following the birth of their first baby (e.g. Belsky & Kelly, 1994); however, few studies attempt to examine what factors during pregnancy impact antenatal marital satisfaction. If declines in relationship satisfaction can be prevented during pregnancy, couples may experience less difficulty in the transition to parenthood. One way to help is when couples engage in behaviors to prepare for the birth of their baby. Yet, little is known about the role of proactive coping both individually and communally and their relation to anxiety and marital satisfaction. Additionally, parenting efficacy has been found to be important with new parents after the birth of their baby to predict role satisfaction, mood, and marital adjustment (e.g. Teti & Gelfand, 1991). Because few prior studies have examined parenting efficacy during pregnancy, the current study will examine the role that parenting efficacy has on feelings of responsibility for the pregnancy and proactive coping efforts. Some researchers argue that the transition to parenthood cannot be examined solely through one partner, or only the couple, because there are three different viewpoints in a marriage that need to be examined: his, hers, and theirs (Cowan et al., 1985). The current study will use this approach to explore how preparing to have a baby can impact both the individual and the couple. Structural equation models will be used to examine the pathways between feelings of responsibility about the pregnancy, parenting efficacy, and proactive coping on anxiety and marital satisfaction.

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