Mothers' well-being, parenting attitudes, and home environment: Cumulative risk and parity in early motherhood

Grainne Hickey*, Sinead McGilloway, Yvonne Leckey, Mairead Furlong, Shane Leavy, Ann Stokes, Siobhan O'Connor, Tracey Bywater, Michael Donnelly

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
95 Downloads (Pure)


Background: This study explores mothers' wellbeing, experiences, and attitudes and the impact of cumulative demographic and antenatal risks and parity on parenting outcomes. A secondary aim was to assess mother and infant service utilisation. 

Method: This study involved an assessment of the baseline characteristics of a sample of mothers (N = 190; Mean age = 31.6 years, SD = 5.4) with young infants (average age = 10.13 weeks, SD = 0.8) living in disadvantaged communities in Ireland. 

Results: Mothers with more risk factors (e.g., lone and/or teenage parenthood, socioeconomic disadvantage, and low social support) reported significantly higher levels of depression and lower parental self-efficacy. Observations of the home environment indicated that at-risk parents engaged in less cognitive stimulation and lower levels of emotional support for their child. The impact of these risk factors differed for primiparous and multiparous mothers. 

Conclusions: At-risk mothers are more susceptible to mental health difficulties and poorer parenting outcomes during the transition to parenthood. This study also provides important comparative insights into experiences of primiparous and multiparous parents. These findings have important implications for practitioners and policy makers, particularly the provision of universal and proportionate supports to prevent and/or interrupt poor parent–child relationships and negative developmental outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)523-530
Number of pages8
JournalChild: Care, Health and Development
Issue number4
Early online date20 May 2019
Publication statusPublished - 01 Jul 2019


  • maternal well-being
  • mother–infant interaction
  • parenting
  • parity
  • risk

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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