Maternal age and psychological maturity: preliminary findings regarding pregnancy adjustment and early parenting

A. Camberis, C. McMahon, F. Gibson, J. Boivin

    Research output: Contribution to journalMeeting abstractpeer-review


    Maternal Age and Psychological Maturity: Preliminary Findings Regarding Pregnancy Adjustment and Early Parenting Aim: In the
    context of the growing trend towards delayed childbearing, this poster reports preliminary findings from a prospective longitudinal
    study which aims to examine relations among maternal age, psychological maturity, adjustment in pregnancy, and early parenting.
    There is speculation in the existing literature that older mothers may be more psychologically mature and that this may be associated
    with a positive adjustment to parenthood, but this has not yet been confirmed empirically. Method: A sample of 266 Australian
    women expecting a first baby and aged between 22 and 43 were recruited through hospitals and clinics during the third trimester of
    pregnancy. Interview and questionnaire based measures assessed indices of maturity including ego development, ego resiliency,
    hardiness, and defense style, mood (Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale), anxiety (State Trait Anxiety Inventory), childbearing
    attitudes, and fetal attachment. Infant development, parenting stress, and maternal sensitivity were assessed at a home visit when
    infants were between 6 and 8 months of age. Results: Significant differences in psychological maturity between older and younger
    women were found, with older women reporting significantly higher levels of ego development (p= .006), ego resiliency (p = .007),
    hardiness (p = .003), and mature defense style (p= .04) than younger women, however effect sizes were modest. Indices of maturity
    were significant predictors of less anxiety and depression in pregnancy [ego development (p = .042), ego resiliency (p= .000),
    hardiness (p = .000), mature defense style (p= .001)], and greater fetal attachment [ego resiliency (p= .01), hardiness (p= .001), mature
    defense style (p= .019)]. Older women reported less identification with motherhood in pregnancy than younger women (p= .01). As
    this is a continuing study, data relating to maternal stress and sensitivity in terms of early parenting is still being coded but will be
    available by the date of the poster presentation. Conclusion: These findings provide modest evidence that older mothers may be more
    psychologically mature and that this maturity is associated with positive adjustment in pregnancy. The relationships between age,
    psycholoical maturity, and parenting adjustment and quality will also be discussed. Key words: Transition to parenthood, motherinfant
    Original languageEnglish
    Article numberP295
    Pages (from-to)261-261
    Number of pages1
    JournalInfant Mental Health Journal
    Issue number3 supplement
    Publication statusPublished - 2010
    Event12th world congress of World Association for Infant Mental Health: 12th world congress WAIMH - Leipzig, Germany
    Duration: 30 Jun 20103 Jul 2010


    • Transition to parenthood
    • mother-infant interaction

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