Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Nursing Science


families & family life, Gynecology, nursing, Obstetrics, post birth, Stress management, women


The purpose of this study was to describe the effects of perinatal family stress, family social support, and family balance on post birth maternal adaptation. The birth of a new infant is a transitional event that causes stress to the individuals within the family and the family as a unit. The childbearing woman has been identified as the core of the expanding family. Her adaptive level is critical to the integration of the new infant into the family unit. Stress and support are important variables in maternal adaptation, yet the specific relationship of these variables as they relate to the family has not been adequately studied. The study was a predictive correlational design. Subjects were 87 family units comprised of a childbearing woman and her identified significant other. Measurement of the variables occurred in the third trimester of pregnancy and at six to eight weeks post birth. Hypotheses were designed to study the relationship of perinatal family social support, family stress, and family balance to post birth maternal adaptation. Descriptive, correlational, multiple correlational, and regression techniques were used for data analysis. Data for the family variables were analyzed using a family unit score based on the couple mean (Copland & White, 1991). An examination of the study hypotheses indicated that five of the seven hypotheses were supported. Family social support and stress were significantly correlated to post birth maternal adaptation prenatally, and family social support, stress and balance were all significantly correlated to maternal adaptation in the post birth measurement. When maternal adaptation was regressed on all independent variables, only family stress and family social support post birth were statistically significant (N = 87, $R\\sp2$ =.33, p $<$.001). Further development of studies relating to how the family and new mother are enmeshed may help to establish more effective interventions for delivering care to this population.

Document Type

Dissertation: Open Access



Included in

Nursing Commons