Archives of Women's Mental Health

, Volume 17, Issue 3, pp 199–212 | Cite as

The relationship between maternal attitudes and symptoms of depression and anxiety among pregnant and postpartum first-time mothers

  • Laura E. Sockol
  • C. Neill Epperson
  • Jacques P. Barber
Original Article


Two studies examined the relationship between maternal attitudes and symptoms of depression and anxiety during pregnancy and the early postpartum period. In the first study, a measure of maternal attitudes, the Attitudes Toward Motherhood Scale (AToM), was developed and validated in a sample of first-time mothers. The AToM was found to have good internal reliability and convergent validity with cognitive biases and an existing measure of maternal attitudes. Exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses determined that the measure comprises three correlated factors: beliefs about others’ judgments, beliefs about maternal responsibility, and maternal role idealization. In the second study, we used the AToM to assess the relationship between maternal attitudes and other psychological variables. The factor structure of the measure was confirmed. Maternal attitudes predicted symptoms of depression and anxiety, and these attitudes had incremental predictive validity over general cognitive biases and interpersonal risk factors. Overall, the results of these studies suggest that maternal attitudes are related to psychological distress among first-time mothers during the transition to parenthood and may provide a useful means of identifying women who may benefit from intervention during the perinatal period.


Parental attitudes Pregnancy Postpartum Risk factors Depression Anxiety 



C. Neill Epperson acknowledges support from the following sources: National Institute of Mental Health and the Office of Research on Women’s Health (P50 MH099910) and the National Institute on Drug Abuse (K24 DA030301).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Wien 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Laura E. Sockol
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • C. Neill Epperson
    • 4
    • 5
  • Jacques P. Barber
    • 6
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyWilliams CollegeWilliamstownUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyUniversity of PennsylvaniaPhiladelphiaUSA
  3. 3.Department of Psychiatry & Human BehaviorAlpert Medical School of Brown UniversityProvidenceUSA
  4. 4.Penn Center for Women’s Behavioral Wellness, Department of Psychiatry, Perelman School of MedicineUniversity of PennsylvaniaPhiladelphiaUSA
  5. 5.Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology, Perelman School of MedicineUniversity of PennsylvaniaPhiladelphiaUSA
  6. 6.The Derner Institute of Advanced Psychological StudiesAdelphi UniversityGarden CityUSA

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