Problems with the Transition to Parenthood

Perceived Responsibility for Restrictions and Losses and the Experience of Injustice
  • Barbara Reichle
  • Leo Montada
Part of the Critical Issues in Social Justice book series (CISJ)


Traditionally, the birth of the first child is considered a positive life event—assuming it occurs under normal circumstances. But, as has been shown already by early research on transition to parenthood (e.g., LeMasters, 1957), the critical potential of life events is not limited to negative events. Sociological research and psychological research have identified various more or less serious problems that occur as a consequence of first childbirth: for mothers, it has been shown to be associated with depression and dysphoric states (see Hopkins, Marcus, & Campbell, 1984, for an overview). Many first-time mothers report role conflict and role strain, even more so when they are employed (e.g., Mercer, 1986). Often, a decline in role satisfaction is observed (e.g., Cowan et al., 1985). Many first-time mothers suffer from unfulfilled expectations and develop negative feelings about their spouses (e.g., LaRossa & LaRossa, 1981; Ruble, Fleming, Hackel, & Stangor, 1988). Compared with their husbands, the decline in marital satisfaction of first-time mothers is faster, and the drop is larger (e.g., Belsky, Spanier, & Rovine, 1983; Cowan et al., 1985; Engfer, Gavranidou, & Heinig, 1988). Less negative effects have been reported for first-time fathers. Depressed mood of rather transient nature (Pedersen, Zaslow, Cain, Suwalsky, & Rabinovich, 1987), strain (S. Feldman, 1987), a sense of crisis (Hobbs & Cole, 1976; Russell, 1974), and a decline in marital satisfaction occur among first-time fathers as among first-time mothers, but less frequently and less pronounced.


Negative Emotion Emotional Response Marital Satisfaction Postpartum Depression Marital Relationship 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1994

Authors and Affiliations

  • Barbara Reichle
    • 1
  • Leo Montada
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyTrier UniversityTrierGermany

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