Anxiety across the transition to parenthood: change trajectories among low-risk parents

Brian P. Don, Alexandra Chong, Susanne N. Biehle, Alynn Gordon, Kristin D. Mickelson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

52 Scopus citations


Background and Objectives: A number of sources suggest changes in anxiety across the transition to parenthood may be experienced by parents in different ways, yet no studies have examined whether new parents experience changes in anxiety in distinct subgroups. Design: We conducted a longitudinal study of 208 first-time parents (104 couples) from a low-risk population. Parents were interviewed from the third trimester of pregnancy to nine-months postpartum. Methods: The current study utilized latent class growth analysis to explore subgroups of change in symptoms of anxiety. Based on stress and coping theory, we also examined a number of personal and social prenatal predictors of subgroup membership. Results: We identified two distinct change trajectories: (1) moderate and stable and (2) low and declining. We also found prenatal depression, expected parenting efficacy, and relationship satisfaction were significantly associated with subgroup membership. Conclusions: Our results suggest a majority of new parents adjust well to parenthood in terms of anxiety, while a smaller subgroup of parents experience continually higher levels of anxiety months after the baby is born.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)633-649
Number of pages17
JournalAnxiety, Stress and Coping
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 1 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • anxiety
  • group-based modelling
  • transition to parenthood

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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