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Predictors of health in new mothers


  • Gjerdingen, Dwenda K.
  • Debra, Froberg


This survey study was conducted to determine the variables that predict mothers' mental health, work readiness, and use of health services several weeks after they give birth to, or adopt a baby. Regression analyses on 313 married women (108 first-time adoptive mothers, 72 first-time biological mothers, and 133 controls) showed a strong link between biological mothers' postpartum health and their infants' health; this relationship was not observed for adoptive mothers and their infants. Biological mothers' postpartum health problems were also related to their smoking, fatigue, and current work at a job; further, their readiness to work at a job two months postpartum was greater if they were in good general health, had not had a cesarean section, and were not currently breastfeeding. The results suggest that many mothers continue to have unique health needs several weeks after delivery and, if substantiated by future studies, these findings may have implications for postpartum health care practices and for maternity leave policy.

Suggested Citation

  • Gjerdingen, Dwenda K. & Debra, Froberg, 1991. "Predictors of health in new mothers," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 33(12), pages 1399-1407, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:33:y:1991:i:12:p:1399-1407

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    Cited by:

    1. Stoddard Christiana & Stock Wendy A. & Hogenson Elise, 2016. "The Impact of Maternity Leave Laws on Cesarean Delivery," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 16(1), pages 321-364, January.
    2. Pinka Chatterji & Sara Markowitz, 2005. "Does the Length of Maternity Leave Affect Maternal Health?," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 72(1), pages 16-41, July.


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