Social Support as a Differential Moderator of the Association Between Optimism, Birth Satisfaction, and Postpartum Acute Stress Symptoms of Fathers and Mothers

Maor Kalfon-Hakhmigari*, Jonathan E. Handelzalts, Yulia Wilk Goldsher, Haim Krissi, Yoav Peled

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Objective: Childbirth can be a stressful event that leads to the development of acute stress. However, little is known about postpartum acute stress among mothers and even less among fathers. The current study aims to expand the understanding of postpartum acute stress symptoms by examining associations with dispositional optimism, subjective birth satisfaction, and social support in a moderated–mediation model. Method: Participants comprised 567 mothers and 109 fathers who gave/were present at birth, sampled at the maternity ward of a tertiary healthcare center. Self-report questionnaires were distributed a few days postpartum: demo-graphic and obstetric information, dispositional optimism (Life Orientation Test-Revised), birth satisfaction (Birth Satisfaction Scale—Revised), social support (the Multidimensional Scale of Perceived Social Support), and acute stress symptoms (National Stressful Events Survey Acute Stress Disorder Short Scale). Results: For mothers, birth satisfaction mediated the association between dispositional optimism and acute stress, and social support moderated the association between birth satisfaction and acute stress for all levels of social support (B =.14, SE =.05, CI [.05 to.23]). For fathers, a similar moderated–mediation occurred; however, at high levels of social support, the association between birth satisfaction and acute stress became insignificant (B =.17, SE =.08, CI [.02 to.32]; index of moderated–mediation =.08, [−.07 to.22]). Conclusions: Optimism through birth satisfaction may reduce acute stress levels following childbirth among parents, while different effects of social support for fathers and mothers were discovered. For fathers, high levels of social support were found to eliminate the association between birth satisfaction and acute stress and therefore buffer the development of postpartum acute stress symptoms. This study took place in one healthcare center with mostly Jewish participants; further studies are thus needed for better generalization.

Original languageEnglish
JournalPsychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2023

Keywords

  • acute stress
  • birth satisfaction
  • childbirth
  • optimism
  • social support

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