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The Mediating Role of Parenting Stress in the Relationship Between Anxious and Depressive Symptomatology, Mothers’ Perception of Infant Temperament, and Mindful Parenting During the Postpartum Period

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Abstract

Objectives

To investigate whether mindful parenting differs according to maternal anxious and/or depressive symptomatology and mothers’ perception of infant temperament and to explore the potential mediating role of parenting stress in the relationship between anxious and depressive symptomatology, perception of infant temperament, and mindful parenting.

Methods

The sample comprised 560 mothers (18–46 years) with a child 12 months old or younger, who completed the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale, the Parental Stress Scale and the Interpersonal Mindfulness in Parenting Scale—Infant version.

Results

Approximately 22.1% of the mothers presented clinically significant anxious and depressive symptomatology levels. Those mothers had significantly higher levels of parenting stress and lower levels of mindful parenting than mothers with normal levels of anxious and depressive symptomatology. Mothers who perceived their infant temperament as difficult had significantly higher levels of parenting stress and lower levels of mindful parenting than those who perceived their infant temperament as easier. A path model was tested through structural equation modeling. Parenting stress mediated the relationship between anxious and depressive symptomatology and mothers’ perception of infant temperament and mindful parenting.

Conclusions

Parenting stress seems to be an important mechanism explaining the associations between maternal anxious and depressive symptomatology, the perception of infant temperament, and mindful parenting. During the postpartum period, it is important to identify mothers with anxious/depressive symptomatology, as they appear to contribute to parenting stress and to be related to parenting skills. Psychological interventions may focus on reducing that symptomatology and parenting stress and promoting mindful parenting skills.

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Funding

This study was funded by the Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology (SFRH/BD/132588/2017).

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Contributions

DVF designed and executed the study, conducted the data analyses, and wrote the paper. MCC collaborated in editing the final manuscript. HM collaborated with the design and writing of the study and assisted with the data analyses. All the authors approved the final version of the manuscript for submission.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Daniela V. Fernandes.

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Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. The Ethics Committee of the Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences of the University of Coimbra approved the study.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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Fernandes, D.V., Canavarro, M.C. & Moreira, H. The Mediating Role of Parenting Stress in the Relationship Between Anxious and Depressive Symptomatology, Mothers’ Perception of Infant Temperament, and Mindful Parenting During the Postpartum Period. Mindfulness 12, 275–290 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12671-020-01327-4

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s12671-020-01327-4

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