A descriptive study of paternal attitudes and concerns during the pre- and post-natal period


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A descriptive study of paternal attitudes and concerns during the pre- and post-natal period
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ix, 125 leaves : ; 28 cm.
Weiss, Michael Gary
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Subjects / Keywords:
Father and child   ( lcsh )
Love, Paternal   ( lcsh )
bibliography   ( marcgt )
theses   ( marcgt )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )


Thesis (Ph. D.)--University of Florida, 1983.
Includes bibliographical references (leaves 116-124).
Statement of Responsibility:
by Michael Gary Weiss.
General Note:
General Note:

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University of Florida
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All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
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aleph - 000493749
notis - ACR2609
oclc - 12015019
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Full Text







This is dedicated to

my daughter, Enily Sarah,
the first beneficiary of this work;

my wife, Ellen,
for her enduring love, support,
and encouragement;


my parents, Albert and Esther,
who instilled within me the strength and
motivation to be myself and to strive
toward my highest ambitions.

I love you all.


Several individuals deserve my gratitude for their assistance and

encouragement during the pursuit of my doctoral degree. Dr. Patricia H.

Miller, my dissertation chairperson, has been a source of motivation,

strength and guidance throughout my doctoral program. I am deeply

appreciative of her sincerity, concern and support. It is my hope that

our professional and personal relationships will continue far into the

future. I would like to thank the members of my dissertation committee,

Drs. Ellen Amatea, Patricia Ashton, W. Keith Berg, William Froming, and

Carolyn Tucker, for their interest, cooperation and direction.

My sincere appreciation is due to the couples who participated in

the study, and the staff at Franklin Square Hospital, in particular Dr.

Glowacki and Linda Michel, R.N., who were so cooperative, giving of

their time and facilitating.

Finally, I want to acknowledge the debt I owe my colleagues for

their continuous encouragement, assistance and friendship. In

particular, I wish to thank Dr. Fonda Eyler, who instilled an interest

and motivation to pursue this research topic; Dr. Elizabeth Altmaier,

who provided unlimited support, guidance and reassurance; Dr. David

Lutz, whose expertise and help have been invaluable; and lastly, the

members and staff of the Psychology Department at California State

College, San Bernardino, who stood by me and rooted me on.



ACKNOWLEDGMENTS................................................... iii

LIST OF TABLES.....................................................vi



I STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM.....................................1

TI REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE......................................6
The Father and Theories of Attachment......................7
The Father-Infant Attachment Relationship ..................9
Paternal Involvement Throughout Infancy................... 12
Father's Influence on the Child's Development.............14
Factors Affecting the Father-Infant Relationship..........18
Father's Prenatal Experiences............................19
Father's Postpartum Experiences...........................26
Psychologically Maladaptive Reactions to Fatherhood....... 29
Mother's Pregnancy and Maternal Adaptation ...............33
Intervention Techniques.................................. 42
Limitations of Previous Research........................44
Rationale: A Refinement of Previous Research...........47
Hypotheses and Questions................................. 50

III METHOD............................................. ........ 55
Instruments.... ... ......................... ...... ........ 56
Procedure................................ ...... .......... 59

IV RESULTS ..................................................... 61
Parental Attitudes/Concerns...............................61
Paternal Involvement in Child Care......................80
Parental Anxiety/Comfort.................................82
Sex-Role Traits................. ..... ........ ... ....... 88

V DISCUSSION................................................. 100
Summary of the Findings................................. .100
Interpretation of the Findings...........................102
Counsel ing Applications.................................. 112
Research Recommendations............................... 113
Conclusion ............................................... 114

REFERENCES........................................................... 116

BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH.................................................. 125



3-1 Subjects' Greatest Concerns Regarding
Pregnancy by Percentage................................. 63

3-2 Subjects' Greatest Concerns Regarding
Labor and Delivery by Percentage......................... 64

3-3 Subjects' Greatest Concerns Regarding the
Postpartum Period by Percentage........................... 65

3-4 Subjects' Greatest Concerns Regarding
Parenthood by Percentage..................................67

3-5 Mean Scores Per Item on the
Parental Attitude Questionnaire........................... 70

3-6 Percentage of Time Father Will Engage in Specific
Child Care Activities When Both Spouses Are
Home Together.............................................81

3-7 Mean Anxiety Scores for the State-Trait
Anxiety Inventory.......................................83

3-8 Mean Comfort Scores on the Parenting and
Family Development Questionnaire II....................... 85

3-9 Mean Number of Information Items Requested on the
Parenting and Family Development Questionnaire III........87

3-10 Mean Masculinity and Femininity Scores on the
BEM Sex Role Inventory....................................89

3-11 Correlations Among the Dependent Variables
(Combined Across Subject Groups) ..........................93

3-12 Correlations Among the Dependent Variables
for the Experimental Males............................... 94

3-13 Correlations Among the Dependent Variables
for the Experimental Females.............................. 95

3-14 Correlations Among the Dependent Variables
for the Control Males................................... 96

3-15 Correlations Among the Dependent Variables
for the Control Females................................... 97

Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate School
of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the
Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy



Michael Gary Weiss

December 1983

Chairperson: Patricia H. Miller, Ph.D.
Major Department: Psychology

Accounts of first-time fathers' psychological processes emphasize

the significance of the father-infant relationship and the consequences

of father involvement to the infant, the father and the family unit.

The present study explores first-time expectant fathers'

attitudes/concerns regarding pregnancy and parenthood prenatally and

postnatally in order to examine any change as a result of their infant's

birth. A secondary goal was to compare fathers' attitudes/concerns with

those of first-time expectant/new mothers. One hundred and ninety-two

first-time parents (96 couples) were administered the assessments

approximately one month prenatally and at one month postpartum. A

closely matched control group of 24 couples who were not expecting and

did not have children, was also administered the assessments within

approximately the same time interval. The assessment consisted of

background information, two questionnaires covering parenting and family

development, the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory and the Bem Sex Role

Inventory. Expectant/new fathers and mothers expressed similar major


concerns regarding pregnancy (health of baby and mother), labor/delivery

(health complications, mother's ability to endure pain), the early

postpartum period (change in lifestyle and health of the baby and

mother), and parenthood (being a good parent). These were also the

major concerns mentioned by the control group subjects. All subjects

expressed relatively low levels of State-Anxiety and Trait-Anxiety. A

significant correlation between generalized anxiety and pregnancy and

parenthood focused anxiety was found for expectant/new fathers and

mothers. This indicates that expectant/new parents who worried more

about pregnancy and parenthood had more anxieties of other kinds as

well. There were changes in the degree of sex-typing from pregnancy to

parenthood for the expectant/new fathers. These men increased their

adherence to stereotypically feminine traits after the birth of their

child. The findings underline the importance of and need for prenatal

and parenting support groups to aid both expectant parents in their

adaptation to this transitional period.


A strong attachment between parent and infant has long been

considered an important aspect of child development (Ainsworth, 1973;

Bowlby, 1969; Klaus & Kennell, 1976). Attachment during the first

years of life seems critical for the normal development of the baby.

For the most part, the word "parent" or "caregiver" seems to be equated

with mother. Only within the past ten years has the father's role in

attachment and caregiving during infancy been seriously considered.

Traditionally, the assumption was made that the father's activities

would be centered around play and this had usually been the case

(Kotelchuck, 1976; Pederson & Robson, 1969; Redina & Dickerscheid,


As changes have occurred within society, so have our views of the

father's role in early infancy. For example, many fathers are

participating to a greater extent in the child's birth by being in the

delivery room with the mother. It has been suggested that men be

allowed greater access to their infants in hospital nurseries and that

fathers be permitted extended contact during the baby's first day of

life (Klaus & Kennell, 1976). States are revising their custody laws

to make it easier for judges to grant fathers custody of their

children. Paternity leaves or flexible work schedules are being

initiated to allow fathers an increased involvement in caring for their

babies (Heise, 1975). In general, more value now is placed on the

father's contribution to infant development.

A fuller understanding of the significance of the father-infant

relationship provides information not only about the importance of

father involvement to the infant, but also about the consequences of

this involvement to the father and the family unit. High paternal

investment in children appears to be associated with greater father

self-esteem, less infant-related anxiety, increased marital

satisfaction and overall improved family relationships. Low paternal

involvement seems to be associated with greater marital strain and

family tension (Earls, 1976).

Although there is recent interest in the father-infant

interaction, this research has not related the interaction to the

father's response to pregnancy, birth and the experiences in the first

month of the infant's life. The father's feelings, attitudes, and

concerns about fatherhood, pregnancy, labor and delivery, and child

care should influence his involvement with his child (Benson, 1968;

Coleman & Coleman, 1972; Klaus & Kennell, 1976). Research studies on

father-infant attachment must shift from the narrow perspective of

examining the behavioral interaction between father and infant to a

broader view of the father-infant relationships which includes the

meaning of pregnancy and birth to the father.

Today, as in the past, psychological stress and occasionally even

psychiatric disorders have been correlated with prospective fatherhood

(Earls, 1976; Lacoursiere, 1972; Zilboorg, 1931). Financial concerns


and emotional anxieties are not uncommon for fathers. These stresses

often prohibit a father from becoming involved in perinatal events and

becoming invested in caregiving activities for the infant. Outlets for

these paternal concerns are rare. Mothers-to-be, who are expected to

have anxieties, have several appropriate societal outlets, which may

include their husbands, mothers, obstetricians, sisters, or

girlfriends. Even though society is changing, the expression of

paternal anxieties still is often considered inappropriate (Earls,

1976; Lacoursiere, 1972; Zilboorg, 1931).

Of the research studies investigating the psychological processes

related to prospective fatherhood, few have clearly described the

attitudes, feelings or concerns of the expectant father. Those studies

that have examined these processes are limited in scope. In

particular, studies have described psychological stress and disorders

related to prospective fatherhood, but not the positive attitudes and

feelings which may result from this experience (Earls, 1976;

Lacoursiere, 1972; Zilboorg, 1931). Other studies have involved only

expectant fathers who participated in Lamaze classes or childbearing

instruction, an atypical sample (Fein, 1976; Wapner, 1976). Most

studies limit their observation of psychological processes either to

those operating during pregnancy or those occurring during the

postpartum period. A longitudinal design, which allows observation of

both the psychological processes operating during pregnancy and the

changes in attitudes and feelings as a result of the child's birth,

would provide more valuable information.


An accurate account of males' psychological processes before and

after their children's birth is needed. This descriptive information

is necessary for a clear understanding of father-infant attachment.

Once a father's attitudes, feelings and concerns before and after his

child's birth have been described, then the influences of these

variables on the father-infant attachment can be studied. (It is also

likely, of course, that the father-infant interaction will in turn

affect the father's attitude toward parenthood. Thus, attitudes and

behavioral interaction affect each other.)

The purpose of the present study was to provide descriptive

information regarding fathers' psychological processes shortly before

and after their first child's birth. In particular, this study

examined attitudes, feelings and concerns of expectant fathers during

the last month of pregnancy and the effect of their children's birth on

these psychological processes. Also, the present study compared these

processes with those of mothers. An examination of the similarities

and differences between fathers and mothers before and after the

child's birth identified factors that may influence parents'

relationships with their infants.

Because this research area was relatively unexplored, the purpose

of this initial study was to examine a large number of variables

associated with the child's birth. It should be noted that, in this

first study, any change in attitude from before to after birth cannot

be attributed to particular events surrounding birth. This is because

birth and the first month of life are a multifaceted set of events; it


is not possible in this initial study to clarify the exact "cause" of

any change in the father or mother. However, the proposed study is an

appropriate starting point. We first need to know if there are changes

and, if so, what they are like.


Traditionally, the image of the father is that he is inept,

unimportant, and uninterested in the infant's development. This

stereotypic image which emerges from the role assigned to the father by

others-his wife, parents, in-laws, and peers-evolves during

pregnancy, delivery and the early postpartum period. However, with the

acknowledgment of the importance of fatherhood and changes in societal

and cultural definitions of masculinity, these stereotypic images of

men's involvement in pregnancy, birth, and family life are undergoing a

drastic change (Jessner, Weigert, & Foy, 1970).

That society is changing is made clear by the subtle fact that the

small amount of literature regarding the father-infant relationship is

growing rapidly. There now is no doubt that fathers can and do form

significant relationships with their infants. Fathers do have the

ability to be actively involved with their infants, though this

involvement may be qualitatively different from the mother's. An

influx of research on the father-infant relationship is the clearest

evidence of this altered perspective. Numerous research areas have

emerged, including paternal psychosis, the father as single parent, the

gay father, unmarried fatherhood, sex-role identification with the

father, and father-deprivation. With respect to father-deprivation,

the majority of the literature suggests that this can be an undesirable

and detrimental situation for a developing child; however, until

recently the literature failed to include father attachment as a

desirable aspect of fathering.

The Father and Theories of Attachment

Although there is extensive theorizing and research on attachment

in infancy, most has dealt only with the mother rather than any adult

caretaker because of the interest surrounding the child's first

relationship with another person. Previously, it had been erroneously

assumed that the child's first social relationship was only with the

mother. Parke (1981) suggests that theorists did not forget fathers by

accident, but rather ignored them because they assumed that fathers

were less important than mothers in influencing the child's

development. However, a similar process of attachment can occur with

any caretaker, particularly the father.

Ethologists such as Lorenz (1966) and Bowlby (1969) have examined

the process of attachment and refer to this phenomenon as imprinting.

Imprinting occurs during a critical period just after birth when the

young of a species becomes permanently bonded to a caretaker. Human-

infant bonding has been considered a two-way interactive process in

which the infant responds to the parent and the parent responds to the

infant. Ainsworth (1973) refers to attachment as an affectional,

enduring bond between two persons with active participation by both

parties and reciprocal response. Klaus and Kennell (1976) alluded to

similar characteristics of attachment: a unique emotional relationship

between two people which endures over time and distance.

Ethological attachment theory (Bowlby, 1969) perceives the infant

as an active organism exhibiting innate behaviors such as crying,

smiling and cooing which maintain proximity to the mother. The goal is

to gain the caregiving and love required for survival. One assumption

of Bowlby's original version of this theory was that the mother-infant

relationship cannot be duplicated between the infant and any other

person in the infant's social environment. The young infant is

supposedly incapable of forming close social relationships with an

individual other than the mother. Bowlby (in Kotelchuck, 1976)

declared "infants to be monotropically matricentric in orientation,

meaning simply that the child has a propensity for going toward one

person (monotropic) and that the person that the child has a propensity

to relate to is the mother matricentricc)" (p. 319). Kotelchuck

(1976) believes this to be based on speculation and basically

unfounded. Lamb (1976a, 1977a) supported this latter perspective.

After investigating attachment of infants toward their fathers and

mothers, he concluded that infants do not show the strong maternal

preferences in the first year as claimed by Bowlby (1969) and Ainsworth

(1969). Although Bowlby did not deny that infants can form other

relationships, it has only been over the last few years that attachment

theorists have recognized that infants form significant relationships

with both parents (Ainsworth et al., 1978).

Psychoanalytic theory (Freud, 1938) and social learning theory

(Maccoby & Masters, 1970) also assign little importance to the father


during a child's infancy. According to these theories, the significant

social figure in the infant's life is the individual who is the

infant's primary caretaker, i.e., the mother. In psychoanalytic

theory, the mother is important because she satisfies the infant's

instinctual psychosexual drives, whereas in social learning theory her

importance lies in her association with the feeding experience. The

role of the father in early social development of the infant has been

all but ignored by theorists in these areas.

The Father-Infant Attachment Relationship

There appears to be little doubt that the father-infant

relationship is a significant one. Anna Freud and Burlingham (1944)

wrote that the infant's emotional relationship to the father is an

integral part of his emotional life. They further believed that this

emotional relationship is a necessary ingredient in the complex factors

that work toward the formation of the infant's character and

personality. Lamb and Lamb (1976) suggested that the emphasis on the

mother which pervades the professional literature has contributed to

the devalued position of the father in our society. Their belief

concurs with an earlier statement by Burlingham (1973) that the

relative neglect of the father had possibly contributed to a distortion

of our thinking about the mother-infant relationship; researchers' and

theorists' preoccupation with the mother may have led to a gross

overestimation of her influence and importance in the child's

personality and social development.

Studies of father attachment and involvement with infants are

relevant to understanding the importance of the father-infant

relationship. Schaeffer and Enerson (1964) were among the first to

report fathers as attachment objects. Using maternal reports, they

found that fathers appeared to be attachment figures for some infants.

Ainsworth (1973) reported that infants do form early attachments to

more than one person.

Greenberg and Morris (1974) studied the nature of first-time

fathers' involvement with their newborn infants. They questioned two

groups of fathers. One group was present for the birth of their infant

and had first contact with them at birth in the delivery room. The

second group had first contact with their infants after birth when the

infant was shown to them by nursing personnel while being transported

from the delivery room to the newborn nursery. The results were that

fathers who were present at birth felt significantly more comfortable

in holding their babies. The results suggest that fathers begin to

develop a bond with their newborn at the time of birth. This bond or

involvement described by Greenberg and Morris is labeled by them as
engrossmentt." Certain characteristics of this engrossmentt" include

fathers' feelings of preoccupation, absorption, and interest in their


In an article on the nature and importance of the father-infant

relationship, Lamb and Lamb (1976) are supportive of this viewpoint.

They suggest that even though little is known about the father-infant

relationship from birth to six months, most theorists believe that the


quality of the interaction during these initial months determines the

nature of the mother-infant and father-infant relationships which

subsequently develop. Lamb (1978) reiterated this point by stating

that the major determinant of the quality of either the mother-infant

or father-infant relationship might be the early interaction between

the infant and that parent.

Lamb (1976a, 1977a, 1977b) conducted a series of research studies

that examined the attachment, affiliative, separation, and reunion

behaviors of infants toward their fathers and mothers. The significant

finding of these studies was that at both seven to eight months of age

and twelve to thirteen months of age, there was no differential

attachment preference for fathers or mothers, but both parents were

preferred to a friendly stranger. For affiliative behaviors, i.e., the

desire to approach and communicate with friendly adults, there were

different results. At both ages, there was a clear preference for

being with the father over the mother when approaching friendly or

familiar adults. In a follow-up study, Lamb (1977b) observed the same

sample at three month intervals from fifteen to twenty-four months. He

found an increase in both attachment and affiliative behaviors toward

fathers as compared to mothers. Lamb concluded that infants are

attached to both parents in the first year of life and beyond.

A considerable amount of research has investigated the existence

of a critical or sensitive period for maternal contact with the infant

(DeChateau, 1976; Kennell, Jerauld, Wolfe, Chesler, Kreger, McAlpine,

Steffa & Klaus, 1974; Klaus, Jerauld, Kreger, McAlpine, Steffa &

Kennell, 1972; Klaus & Kennell, 1976). There is some evidence that

close physical contact shortly after birth is associated with an

increase in maternal affectionate behaviors. In an effort to

investigate the effects of extended father-infant contact, Keller

(1981) studied three groups of fathers: two groups of fathers were

present at delivery and received either extended contact of a minimum

of one hour on each of the first two postpartum days or traditional

contact; the third group of fathers was absent from the birth process.

Although Keller found no evidence to suggest that the father's absence

from the delivery room had a negative effect on the father-infant

attachment, his results do indicate that fathers who received extended

contact engaged in greater amounts of vocalizations and "en face"

behavior with their infants during a sixth week postpartum behavioral

assessment. In addition, the results suggest that fathers in the

extended contact group were more involved in infant caretaking

responsibilities. Other studies indicate that father-infant

interaction in the postpartum period reveals fathers to be active and

sensitive to the infant's cues (Greenberg & Morris, 1974; Parke &

O'Leary, 1976; Pedersen & Robson, 1969).

Paternal Involvement Throughout Infancy

Although the traditional paternal role of support of the mother,

rather than active participation in the caregiving of the infant, is

still dominant in our culture, role patterns and expectations are

changing. In particular, Bronfenbrenner (1961) discussed secular


changes in the infant's care which have produced a more active role for

the father. Robert Fein (1978) reported that men feel burdened by too

restrictive definitions of masculinity and in fact desire to seek a

blend of work and family life. He mentioned fathers' efforts to become

more involved in daily child care responsibilities and to learn more

about the frustrations and the joys of continuous participation in

their children's lives. The number of families in which both parents

are employed has increased, leading to shared caretaking (Howells,

1973). The emergence of single parent families, where the father is

the primary caretaker, has been another change (Orthner, Brown &

Ferguson, 1976).

One of the original studies of the role of the father by Tasch

(1952) is a valuable one, and one of the few that has investigated the

father directly. She interviewed 85 fathers who had a total of 160

children. These fathers did not view their role as merely secondary,

but saw themselves as active participants in routine daily care. They

also saw child-rearing as an integral part of their role as father.

Parke and Sawin (1976) found that fathers are interested in child care

activities, and if provided the opportunity will become involved. They

viewed the father as nurturant in his interactions with the infant as

well as competent and content in the execution of caretaking

activities. Sawin and Parke (1979) reported that during feeding in the

neonatal period, fathers are as active as mothers in their interactions

with the infant. Fathers are even more active than mothers in

affectionate-social stimulation behaviors.


Pedersen and Robson (1969) studied forty-five families and their

firstborn infants. Interviews with mothers were used to determine

father participation with their infants. The fathers were reported to

be highly involved with their infants; however, more involvement was

seen between fathers and their male infants than their female infants.

Parke and Sawin (1976) and Parke and O'Leary (1976) reported that there

are qualitative differences between mother-infant and father-infant

interactions which are related to the sex and ordinal position of the

infant. Studying father-mother-infant interaction in the newborn

period, both studies found that fathers are more vocal and played more

with their sons than daughters, especially so with first born sons.

Other studies indicate that male infants more so than female infants

prefer their fathers at least by one year of age (Ban & Lewis, 1974;

Lamb, 1977a, 1977b; Spelke, Zelazo, Kagan & Kotelchuck, 1973).

In societies considered more primitive than our own, the fathering

role is often quite different from the one traditionally seen in our

culture. Howells (1969) reported on the Arapesh culture where the

fathers play an active and joint role with mothers throughout

pregnancy, as well as postnatally. Father-infant contact is higher in

primitive societies than in more complex highly developed societies

(Mead, 1972). Cross-cultural comparisons indicate diversity in the

amount of involvement fathers have in their infants' development.

Father's Influence on the Child's Development

The father has an overall effect on the well-being of the infant

and the family unit. He is considered vital to maintaining stability

in the family and to achieving its ultimate success in child rearing

(Benson, 1968; Lynn, 1974).

One of the initial influences that the father has on the infant is

that of provider-protector. The father contributes to the survival of

the infant by working, providing a home and food, and protecting the

infant from the outside world. In many ways, the father is a

representative of the world outside of the home in that he first brings

to the child knowledge about the world (Davids, 1972; Lynn, 1974;

Richards, 1982). Working mothers, of course, also have this role.

Another influence of fathers was examined by Kotelchuck (1975) in

his investigation of the effects of paternal caregiving on infants'

stranger anxiety and separation protest. His results indicate that

infants with two parents who actively take care of them tend to show

separation protest later and terminate it earlier than infants with a

less active father. In addition, those infants whose fathers perform

more extensive caretaking display less distress and protest less when

left alone with strangers. This finding supported the work of Spelke,

Zelazo, Kagan and Kotelchuck (1973) who examined the influence of

fathers on one-year olds' separation behavior. They concluded that

infants who have strong attachments to their fathers show decreased

levels of stranger anxiety and more readily adapt to changes in the

environment. Pederson and Robson (1969) found that fathers' investment

in caretaking, as well as the level of stimulation they provide during

play (based on mothers' reports), is positively associated with

greeting behavior directed toward the father in eight and

nine-month-old babies.

The father furnishes for the child an example of masculinity. For

his son, he supplies a model of what it is like to be a man; for his

daughter, he is the representative of all men. In general, the father

provides guidelines for healthy relationships with other men for both

boys and girls (Blume, 1966; Freud, 1923; Lamb, 1975; Mead, 1949; Nash,

1965). In families with the father absent, especially prior to his

children's fifth year, there is an influence on masculine sex role

adoption and cognitive style in boys, as well as later heterosexual

roles for girls (Biller, 1974; Carlsmith, 1964; Hetherington, 1966).

Fathers influence not only the social but also the cognitive

development of the infant (Biller, 1974). Several studies provide

support for this viewpoint. When examining the effect of father-child

interaction on the intelligence of four-year old boys, Radin (1976)

found the strongest positive correlation between the nurturance of the

father and his son's intelligence test scores. Radin concluded that

fathering is relevant to the cognitive functioning of the child.

Spelke et al. (1973) indicated that a possible relationship exists

between father-infant attachment and later cognitive development.

Father absence during the first six months of life appears to have a

strong effect on later cognitive achievement. Carlsmith (1964) studied

the effect of early father absence on the scholastic aptitude of male

college students. The greatest influence on aptitude patterns is

father absence during the first six months of life.

The father-infant relationship is a reciprocal one. Therefore,

children will directly influence their fathers' behavior and attitudes

toward them, just as fathers affect their children's development. A

father's influence on the socialization of his child will be a direct

result of the father-infant relationship. In addition, the father may

indirectly influence the child's development by his effects on the

infant's early interactions with other people. Parke (1981) stated

that fathers often indirectly influence their children by affecting the

mother's behavior. He observed mothers alone with their infants-and

mothers with their infants when their husbands were also present. In

the fathers' presence mothers talked, touched and held their infants

less; however, they also smiled and explored them more often. Parke

believes that the father's presence may increase the mother's interest

in her infant. Pedersen, Anderson and Cain (1977) suggested that the

quality of the husband-wife relationship is a significant link to that

of the mother-infant relationship. Attention must be devoted to both

the husband-wife and mother-father units in order to gain a complete

understanding of the consequences of the family experience during

infancy (Belsky, 1980, 1981).

In summary, there is no question that the quantity and quality of

social stimulation the infant receives from the father influences the

infant's overall social, emotional and cognitive development. The

father, through paternal nurturance, can supply the infant with a

strong, positive foundation. Biller (1974) refers to this paternal

nurturance as "the father's affectionate, encouraging and attentive

behavior toward his child" (p. 33).

Factors Affecting the Father-Infant Relationship

Numerous factors affect the father-infant relationship. To some

extent, the prospective father's attitudes and behaviors toward

fathering have been established by his own childhood. Through the

expectant father's personal experiences within the society in which he

is raised, e.g., observing his own father or a father-figure,

preparation for fatherhood begins (Benson, 1968; Burlingham, 1973;

Coleman & Coleman, 1972). In addition, a man's personality and

attitude toward his own masculinity influence his ideas about

fatherhood (Biller, 1974). For example, if he believes it is not

masculine to engage in certain caretaking activities, this will

restrict his role as a father. Furthermore, the husband-wife

relationship and the security the male derives from it affect the

father-child interaction (Benson, 1968; Biller, 1974; Lynn, 1974;

Pedersen, Anderson, & Cain, 1977). That is, the more secure the father

perceives his marital relationship to be, the more comfortable and

interactive he appears to be in his interactions with his infant.

Other factors affecting the father-infant relationship revolve

around the pregnancy itself. Whether the pregnancy was planned or

unplanned, wanted or unwanted, will affect the man's adaptation to the

pregnancy and later interactions with the infant (Biller, 1974; Coleman

& Coleman, 1972). Also, the course of the pregnancy, delivery and

early postpartum period influence the father's willingness to become


involved with the child (Klaus & Kennel, 1976; Rising, 1974; Schaeffer,

1965). Often a problem filled pregnancy or complicated delivery will

decrease a new father's desire to become involved with his new infant.

However, Peterson, Mehl, and Leiderman (1979), in a study examining

birth-related variables in father-infant attachment in forty-six

families, suggest that the father's experience of birth and his

behavior during delivery are more important than his prenatal attitude

in determining his involvement. They reported that a more positive

birth experience, one where the father has been assisted in overcoming

his inhibitions about being involved in the birth process along with

the mother, leads to greater levels of paternal attachment in the

postpartum period. Other variables associated with stronger attachment

are longer labors and delivering the baby in a home environment as

compared to delivering in a hospital setting. Greenberg and Morris

(1974) suggest that fathers whose first contact with their infants is

at birth are more sensitive to their infants and become more


Father's Prenatal Experiences

The traditional stereotype of the father suggested that he is

unmotivated and uninterested in becoming involved in the perinatal

events. Recent research indicates that this perspective is not valid.

Fein (1978) reported that men experience a range of feelings and can

participate more actively in perinatal events than was indicated in

previous research. It is no longer useful to consider pregnancy, birth

and postpartum infant care solely in the context of the mother's

experience, but rather as an experience for both mother and father.

Various professionals are recommending increased paternal involvement

during this transitional period (Greenberg & Morris, 1974; Klaus &

Kennell, 1976; Mead, 1972; Pedersen & Robson, 1969; Tasch, 1952). Many

recent books and articles discuss prenatal and postnatal paternal

involvement. These changes may be causing (or may simply reflect) an

increase in the father's involvement in all of the stages of the

pregnancy-birth-postnatal periods. There is an increased willingness

and interest of husbands to become actively involved in these events

and to make positive contributions (Coleman & Coleman, 1972; Cronenwett

& Newmark, 1974; Greenberg & Morris, 1974; Parke & Sawin, 1976).

In our society, childbirth preparation programs have become the

acceptable form for involvement of the father in pregnancy (Burlingham,

1973; Coleman & Coleman, 1972; Schaeffer, 1965). This involvement

often extends from pregnancy into labor and delivery and throughout the

postpartum experience (Bradley, 1965; Coleman & Coleman, 1972; Heise,

1975; Rising, 1974; Schaeffer, 1965). Bradley (1962) suggests that

prepared childbirth classes permit fathers a greater involvement in the

pregnancy and allow them to enhance the experience of labor and

delivery. Fathers' presence in the delivery room is associated with a

decreased use of anesthetics during labor and delivery, as well as a

decreased incidence of emotional illness related to childbirth.

Numerous studies conclude that an increase in preparation for

parenthood by the father is desirable and even necessary (Dyer, 1963;


Heise, 1975; LeMasters, 1957; Treat, 1964). Heise (1975) states that

prepared childbirth courses should include sessions specifically

designated for discussing fathers' needs and sharing his emotional

feelings. In addition, he reports that the concept of "paternity

leave" for new fathers is slowly gaining support.

Many cultures have rituals that define and limit, as well as

enhance the father's role. The. "couvade" ritual is the most common.

"Couvade" is a term derived from the French word coverer" which means

to brood or to hatch. Trethowan (1965) reports that in the traditional

ritual form of couvade, practiced for centuries particularly in

primitive societies, the father remains in bed during the mother's

pregnancy, labor and delivery as a means of sharing this experience.

Expectant fathers go through all of the motions of labor, uttering

moans and groans, thrashing about as if they were bearing the child.

After the child is born, family and friends hover over the new father

out of respect for his new role. He is required to diet and rest for a

given period of time. Anthropologists explain couvade as a father's

desire to assert his rightful paternity and declare his share in

parenthood (Arnstein, 1972).

The "couvade syndrome" has also been used to describe a

constellation of physical symptoms in the contemporary father that seem

to imitate some aspects of pregnancy. Curtis (1955), studying

expectant fathers in the American Armed Services, observed that

prospective fathers reported abdominal cramps, ravenous appetites,

restlessness at home and increased marital tension. Trethowan and


Conlon (1965) carried out an investigation of 327 expectant fathers and

discovered that over 10% suffered from minor physical ailments during

their wives' pregnancies. These ailments included abdominal pains,

loss of appetite, indigestion, colic, nausea, vomiting and toothache.

The expectant fathers apparently had been in good mental and physical

health prior to their wives' pregnancies. Liebenberg (1969, 1973)

reports that 65% of the expectant fathers in her study experienced

"pregnancy symptoms." These symptoms included fatigue in the first

trimester, nausea, backache, headache, vomiting and peptic ulcer.

Expectant fathers' physical reactions during pregnancy may, in

part, be due to the emotional strain of this transitional period. In

addition, physical symptoms are a way of expressing identification with

the pregnancy and establishing a relationship with the unborn child.

Wapner (1976) states that physical symptoms correlate highly with the

expectant father's desire to know when the baby moves or kicks. These

expectant fathers who experience physical symptoms seem to have the

feeling that "we are both pregnant."

In a study of 128 first-time fathers, all attending Lamaze

childbirth classes, Wapner (1976) examined these fathers' attitudes and

feelings regarding fatherhood, pregnancy, changes in the husband-wife

relationship, and physical reactions to the pregnancy. Wapner reports

that expectant fathers view fatherhood with overwhelming acceptance and

confidence about becoming a father. Their major concern, however, is

being responsible and providing for a young family. This supported the

earlier work of Benson (1968), who indicated that culturally, the

uniqueness of fatherhood lies in the economic aspects of the role.

Wapner states that the Lamaze fathers profess a great deal of emotional

involvement and investment in their wives' pregnancies. They see

themselves in a supportive role and therefore, these fathers do not

express feelings of being excluded. Changes in their marital

relationships seemed to center on the expectant fathers' increased

concern about their wives. Wapner reports an overall nurturant quality

in these men; they have a desire to take care of their wives and watch

over them. In addition, although a majority of these expectant fathers

report making love less and an even smaller percentage indicate a loss

of sexual drive, for the most part they are not overly concerned about

the changes in the sexual and physical aspects of their marital

relationship. Grossman, Eichler, and Winickoff (1980) suggested that

those expectant fathers who were more satisfied with their sexual life

early in pregnancy were adapting better to the later months of

pregnancy than those who reported little or no satisfaction.

Several studies have examined the significance of expectant

fathers' attitudes toward the pregnancy and their means for coping with

the changes during pregnancy. Of particular interest has been how

these attitudes and changes affect both the development of the new

family unit and the father's feelings about his child. Entwisle and

Doering (1981), as a part of a larger project on first births, tried to

link events during pregnancy to later fathering behavior. The premise

behind their research was that a father's feelings and attitudes toward

his child are bound to be shaped by the prior events of pregnancy and


delivery, as are the mothers. They found a strong correlation between

the degree of interest in their child and how positive the father's

attitude was toward the pregnancy. The more positive the attitude, the

greater the degree of interest. Deutscher (1970) engaged in brief

family therapy with ten couples before and after the birth of their

first child. He reports that there is a necessity for an "alliance of

pregnancy." This alliance is based on the need for a working

interaction of communication and emotional sharing during this

transitional period. Deutscher believes that the creation and

maintenance of this alliance are critical for a positive pregnancy,

delivery, and formation of family life.

To obtain information on men's adaptation to pregnancy, birth and

parenthood, Grossman, Eichler and Winickoff (1980) interviewed

seventy-one expectant fathers beginning in the first trimester of

pregnancy and continuing to one year after their infants' births. They

reported that during the first trimester men judged as more comfortable

and satisfied with the pregnancy than others tended to be more

masculine and less feminine. Lacoursiere (1972) suggested that a

wife's pregnancy may arouse issues of sexual identity in her husband.

Although speculative, his conclusion was that men who are less

stereotypically masculine may feel some anxiety during pregnancy due to

some unfulfilled wish to be female or pregnant. These conclusions are

based on Lacoursiere's experiences in a mental health setting.

Levinson (1978) indicates that starting a family may bring out

psychological issues which include a man's recognizing and accepting

the feminine aspects in him. Cross-culturally, males who manifest

pregnancy-like symptoms during their wives' pregnancy are more likely

to give female-like responses on covert measures of sex identity and

hypermasculine responses on overt measures. This suggests the presence

of cross-sex-identity in these expectant fathers. The hypermasculine

responses may indicate attempts to cope with the syndrome and what

might be considered less masculine reactions to pregnancy experiences

(Munroe & Munroe, 1971; Munroe, Munroe, & Nerlove, 1973). Fein

(1976) believes that there is no real need for the maintenance of rigid

sex role distinctions during pregnancy and birth. This provides both

risks and opportunities for expectant men.

McCorkel (1964) conducted interviews with twenty-nine first time

expectant fathers to explore three aspects of expectant fatherhood: 1)

prenatal changes in the expectant father's self concept; 2) changes in

the husband-wife relationship; 3) changes in the expectant father's

social world outside of the home. McCorkel suggested that there were

natural groupings of the expectant fathers based upon similar reactions

to the event of pregnancy. The three groups, characterized by their

predominant orientation toward marriage and pregnancy, were as follows:

1) those with a romantic orientation; 2) those with a family

orientation; and 3) those with a career orientation. Those expectant

fathers with a romantic orientation viewed pregnancy as a maturational

experience. They felt that the pregnancy was a sharp reminder that

they were no longer carefree adolescents, but responsible adults. The

pregnancy was a transitional period that caused a marital crisis as

well as conflict with relatives. Family oriented expectant fathers

eagerly accepted the responsibility of becoming family men. These

husbands considered pregnancy a gift and experienced fulfillment in the

prospect of fatherhood. During the pregnancy these expectant fathers

became much closer to their wives. In contrast, the career oriented

husband regarded prospective fatherhood as a burden. They remained

more oriented to their careers than their families and often denied any

transformation in identity or a need to change their way of living.

In a British study of 150 expectant fathers' experiences of

pregnancy and childbirth, Richman and Goldthorp (1978) described the

dominant orientation of fathers as two axes with a total of four poles.

They suggested that a father's orientation is a dynamic process with

possible swings between the poles. The two axes they propose are 1)

the father psychopathologically denies the existence of pregnancy and

adopts maladaptive strategies of disavowal versus the father wishes to

share the pregnancy experience, provides increased instrumental and

emotional support, and develops a special bond with his unborn child;

2) the father adopts the stance that pregnancy is "nothing unusual" and

it is the wife's responsibility versus the father claims total

responsibility for the fetus and attempts to usurp the mother's role.

Father's Postpartum Experiences

Fein (1976) suggested that effective postpartum adjustment in men

is related to their developing some kind of coherent role which meets

their needs as well as those of their wives and babies, whether this

role be traditional (e.g., breadwinner) or non-traditional. The

shifting cultural role of fathers has created a number of problems: in

particular, wives look increasingly to their husbands for companionship

and assistance with caring for the children. This new perspective of

fatherhood requires the father to be more emotionally expressive and

available, so that he is less restrained, rational, and objective

(Grossman, Eichler, & Winickoff, 1980). However, as men move toward a

more expressive manner, there are few guidelines for their new, but

appropriate, role in the family (Green, 1976; Knox & Kupferer, 1971).

Miller (1971) discussed the difficulty of middle-class husbands in

forging this new role without adequate models or support. Men's

confusion about roles is further increased by their lack of boyhood

preparation in accepting and coping with many of the dimensions of this

new fathering role. Most boys are given little experience in dealing

with infants or young children and they are actually discouraged from

playing house or playing with dolls (Bitterman & Zalk, 1978).

Grossman, Eichler and Winickoff (1980) found that at two months

postpartum the new fathers in their study were beginning to feel

comfortable with themselves, their marital relationships, and their

attachments to their new children. The subjects' positive

psychological health at two months postpartum was associated with three

prenatal factors: 1) frequent and satisfying sexual activity during

their wives' early pregnancy; 2) strong identification with a mother

perceived as nurturant; and 3) stereotypically "feminine" responses to

pregnancy and childbirth before their infant's birth.

LeMasters (1957), who interviewed couples once within the five

years after the birth of their first child, reported that a large

majority of these couples experienced extensive and severe crises

related to their new parenthood. The couples indicated that although

they had gone through rough experiences, it was completely worth it.

LeMasters proposed that their degree of crisis was directly related to

the lack of realistic preparation for parenthood. In a similar

investigation, Dyer (1963) interviewed 32 couples within two years

after their first child's birth. He reported that 50% experienced

either extensive or severe crisis. Fathers' complaints included loss

of sleep, difficulty adjusting to the new responsibility and demands,

discomfort over upset scheduling and daily routines, surprise over the

amount of time and work the baby required and increased financial

worries. Dyer found that those men he interviewed who were

comparatively more satisfied with their marriages after the birth of

the baby, those who had taken a course preparing them for marriage and

parenthood, and those who were married for a longer time reported less

crisis than the other fathers in his study. Hobbs (1963, 1966), using

different assessment techniques, could not replicate either Dyer's or

LeMasters' results. He did find that his new fathers were distressed

by the interruption of their routine habits and increased financial

problems. Hobbs attributed his inability to find similar results to

his assessment techniques. He interviewed couples during their

infants' first year of life, while the parents were still undergoing

the stress and therefore possibly had a need to deny just how difficult


the situation really was. In contrast, LeMasters and Dyer interviewed

couples several years later and in retrospect they may have felt less

discomfort in responding about earlier distress.

Studying the impact of a child's birth on a couple's relationship,

Cowan, Cowan, Cole, and Cole (1978) suggested that sharing and

communication between their couples were central to the way new fathers

and mothers coped with the realities of child rearing during the first

few months after birth. This sharing and communication enhanced their

marital relationship and this period in their lives. Rossi (1968), in

an article discussing transition to parenthood, emphasized the

necessity of social supports for the continuity of harmonious family


Psychologically Maladaptive Reactions to Fatherhood

Greenberg and Morris (1974) postulate that the attachment bond is

not only important to the mental health of the infant, but of equal

significance to the mental health of the father. Attachment provides

an increase in feelings of adequacy and self-esteem. However,

impending fatherhood also appears to be a period of increased stress

and anxiety for the male (Fein, 1976). During this period, the

expectant father may develop psychiatric disorders in response to

fatherhood (Earls, 1976; Towne & Afterman, 1955). The prospect of

becoming a father may cause psychological stress and culminate in poor

adaptation to fatherhood.

Several psychoanalytic clinicians have attempted to describe the

underlying psychological processes which may yield psychopathological


behavior in fatherhood. A majority of their interpretations are based

solely on subjective clinical interviews with a few clients. Although

the evidence for these speculative clinical interpretations is weak,

these studies provide the only theoretical work in this area.

Boehm (1930) writing on the concept of parturitionn envy"

suggested that men imagine conception and childbirth as mysterious and

complicated. He stated that men have a strong desire to share in both

of them and have an intense envy of this capacity in women. Since men

have this desire to be involved in the birth process, but are usually

excluded, they therefore compensate with other symptoms. Boehm

believed that pregnancy, birth and postpartum experiences evoke deep

anxieties in men. Zilboorg (1931) extended this hypothesis by

examining stressful adaptations to the role of parent as the cause of

depressive illness in both men and women. Zilboorg believed that a

variety of unconscious barriers to fatherhood exist within any

individual. These unconscious forces may take on various forms that

result in a depressive state. Examples of unconscious barriers in men

include hatred of one's own father, an attempt to resolve an incestuous

drive rooted in the Oedipal condition, or, for men who are in their

forties, hostility to and dependency upon the infant. These depressive

and psychotic illnesses are not limited to first experiences with


Zilboorg noted that an interaction between psychodynamic and

sociocultural factors may result in males' maladaptive behaviors. He

argued that the societal stigma attached to depression or depressive

symptoms in males is often the reason that depressive symptoms alone

are not sufficient to resolve emotional conflict in men. Men are

taught that symptoms such as passivity, impotence and crying are

threats to their own masculine self image. Therefore, to resolve

psychological stresses of fathering, few adoptive alternatives exist.

Instead, maladaptive behavior such as murder, pathological projection

(claiming that the child is not his), rivalry with the infant,

passivity, femininity and sadism or harsh punishment of the child can

become the primary means of resolving the psychological stress.

An updated psychoanalytic interpretation of men's experiences

during pregnancy was offered by Jessner, Weigert and Foy (1970). They

suggest that "paternal feelings are formed by the combinations of a

man's wish to produce a child, envy of female childbearing, his

productive capabilities and his identification with his own father" (p.


Antisocial behavior, jealousy or ambivalent feelings toward the

infant may accompany the event of becoming a father. Curtis (1955)

examined the unconscious fantasies of expectant fathers. Using

projective tests, he found that expectant fathers were more likely than

controls to produce material based on the Oedipal situation. Fathers

who have a relatively unstable unconscious image of themselves as

capable and loving father figures are less likely to maintain a

positive emotional adaptation to fatherhood. Wainwright (1966) stated

that the ability of a wife's pregnancy to initiate difficulties in the


expectant father had been underestimated. He treated ten men having a

breakdown during this period and it became apparent that the pregnancy

was a significant cause of anxieties and maladaptive behavior in these

men. During the therapy these problematic feelings often took the form

of envy or reawakened homosexual desires. Hartman and Nicolay (1966),

examining sexually deviant behavior in expectant fathers, classified

their behavior as regressive and immature. The most common symptoms

were exhibitionism and paedophilia. These usually occurred during the

first pregnancy. Liebenberg (1969) discovered that it was difficult

for the expectant fathers in her study to contain their passive

femininity or latent homosexual feelings.

Bernstein and Cyr (1957), in a study identifying the pressing

problems of expectant fatherhood, indicate that the prenatal concerns

of expectant fathers are the same as their postpartum concerns.

Gurwitt (1976) discusses two psychological aspects of the prenatal

experience which carry over into the postpartum period. First is the

man's reactions to psychological and physical changes in his wife

during the pregnancy period. Second is the reworking of significant

relationships and early events in his life. In general, the

supposition is that any crisis, including impending fatherhood, brings

out unresolved conflicts from early in life.

It seems likely that these maladaptive behaviors have some adverse

consequences on the father-infant relationship. Since longitudinal

studies have not been done, the true consequences of these maladaptive

factors upon the father-infant relationship are basically unknown.

The incidence of major psychiatric illness associated with

fatherhood does appear to be low. Rettersol (1968) estimated that only

2% of all psychoses in men are initiated by fatherhood. Trethowan

(1965) reported that only approximately 11% of the normal population

experienced some psychosomatic symptoms with expectant fatherhood.

Mother's Pregnancy and Maternal Adaptation

Pregnancy, birth and the early postpartum period may be viewed as

a major developmental experience affecting the growth pattern of the

maturing woman. These transitional periods have been labeled normal

developmental crises; however, they are significant turning points in

the emotional life of a woman. Several psychoanalytic theorists have

claimed that childbearing and motherhood are essential aspects of an

emotionally mature woman. In Freud's early writings he theorized that

childbearing and motherhood were important tasks for a woman in

resolving her desire for a penis by substituting a more realistic wish

for a child. Once this maternal orientation had been achieved, the

woman would have completed her healthy feminine sexual identity

(Grossman, Eichler, & Winickoff, 1980).

Later psychoanalytic theorists examined more closely the effect

that the actual experiences of pregnancy and childbirth had on the

psychological well-being of women. Deutsch (1945) postulated that

pregnancy is the natural fulfillment of the deepest, most powerful wish

of a woman. She believed that developing a "motherly ego" was

essential for woman in the development of a healthy ego.


Caplan (1961), Bibring (1959) and Bibring et al. (1961) suggested

that physiological events accompanying an expectant mother's

psychological state during pregnancy may significantly influence the

fetus. Her psychological state may also affect her later relationship

with the infant. Caplan (1961) stated that pregnancy is a period of

biologically determined psychological crisis. Bibring (1959) and

Bibring et al. (1961) concurred with this viewpoint, stating that

pregnancy is a period of crisis and disequilibrium. They hypothesized

that pregnancy and early motherhood share many similar features with

the developmental crises of puberty and menopause. These similar

features include somatic and psychological change. In addition,

Bibring et al. (1961) postulated that all three of these crises revive

unsettled or partially resolved conflicts from earlier developmental

stages which require new resolutions. If new resolutions to these

conflicts are achieved, then the expectant mother will gain a new level

of psychological maturity and the ability to master the subsequent

developmental stage of motherhood. However, if these conflicts are not

successfully resolved, then she will maintain a lower level of

functioning which will lead to problems for herself and also to

problems in the mother-infant relationship.

Psychoanalytic writers were probably the first to acknowledge the

significance and complexity of the psychological tasks of pregnancy and

motherhood. They believed that pregnancy, childbearing and parenting

were the exclusive tasks of women. However, they provided a

theoretical understanding of the psychological processes involved in

pregnancy and childbirth.

Other theorists and researchers have investigated the significance

of the marital, sociocultural and physiological dimensions in pregnancy

and motherhood. Several studies have sought to increase our knowledge

of these dimensions in the psychology of both pregnancy and the

postpartum period. In an early study examining favorable and

unfavorable attitudes toward pregnancy in first-time expectant mothers,

Despres (1937) asked 100 women to answer a questionnaire concerning

their feelings toward pregnancy and the manner in which it affected

their daily lives. Her results indicated that three factors preceding

pregnancy were associated with unfavorable attitudes toward pregnancy:

1) emotional impoverishment in childhood; 2) an early responsibility in

caring for siblings; and 3) sex education before the age of ten. Women

with unfavorable attitudes during the pregnancy were likely to have

prolonged nausea and vomiting. Despres's results also suggested that a

favorable attitude toward pregnancy was associated with marital

satisfaction before and during pregnancy.

Gordon and Gordon (1960) investigated social factors during

pregnancy that have a positive influence on postpartum emotional

adjustment. Their findings indicate that certain behavioral changes

made in preparation for the new responsibilities of motherhood were

associated with a good postpartum adjustment. These behavioral changes

included making more friends of couples with young children; less

emphasis on tidiness in the home; seeking more experienced help with

the baby; husband's becoming more available in the home; decreased

socializing outside of the home; and continuation of her outside

activities, but limiting her responsibilities. Grimm and Venet (1966)

examined the relationship of emotional adjustment and attitudes during

pregnancy with the physical and psychological outcomes of pregnancy.

They interviewed women from early pregnancy through the early

postpartum period. Their results suggested that the women in their

study who were more independent and less neurotic during pregnancy were

better adjusted psychologically and emotionally in the postpartum

period. In addition, Wenner (1969) reported that certain emotional and

psychological factors influence the course of pregnancy for women.

Five factors were found to be significant: 1) a woman's motivation for

the pregnancy; 2) a woman's feminine identification; 3) previous

emotional difficulties; 4) her relationship to her own parents; and 5)

the most significant factor, the stability of her marital relationship.

In an extensive study of psychological aspects of a first

pregnancy, Shereshefsky and Yarrow (1973) interviewed sixty middle

class families from the third month of pregnancy until the sixth month

postpartum. Their primary interest was to determine those variables

that were associated with successful pregnancy adaptation and

successful maternal adaptation. With regard to pregnancy adaptation,

Shereshefsky and Yarrow found that several personality characteristics

are predictive of the woman's adaptation to a first pregnancy. In

particular, women high in nurturance and ego strength adapted well to

the experience. Also, those women who were able to visualize

themselves in the maternal role adapted well to the pregnancy.

However, women who experienced a high incidence of physiological

problems were more likely to have a poor psychological adjustment

during pregnancy.

According to Shereshefsky and Yarrow, characteristic of all of the

women during this first pregnancy were emotional states consisting, in

varied combinations and degrees, of ambivalence, anxiety and eager

anticipation. Approximately 50% of the women expressed intermittent

periods of moodiness and depressive states. From the first to the

second trimester fewer women were suffering from diminished vitality.

By the seventh month 50% of the women reported an enhancement of

feelings of well-being. Variations in feelings of anxiety in the first

trimester decreased anxiety in the second trimester and then increased

anxiety during the eighth and ninth months with labor and delivery

imminent. Lastly, in relation to pregnancy adaptation, Shereshefsky

and Yarrow noted an increased psychological preparation for childbirth

from the first through the third trimester.

Shereshefsky and Yarrow concluded that pregnancy adaptation is

predictive of maternal adaptation. Acceptance of and positive

adaptation to the pregnancy were significantly correlated with

adjustment in the postpartum period. In addition, interest in and

experience with children were positively correlated with maternal

adaptation. The personality characteristics of high nurturance and ego

strength, including self-confidence, were predictive of adaptability in

this period. However, in the postnatal period, the husband's role was

unequivocally related to maternal adaptation. The husband-wife

relationship during this period was highly related to the woman's

accommodation to the infant and her acceptance of the maternal role.

Although 40% of the women in this study showed an increase in

nurturant qualities in the early postpartum period as a result of

pregnancy and childbirth, approximately 30% of the women had special

difficulties in this transitional phase. These difficulties included

intense anxieties about care of the infant or inadequacy in the

mothering role; over reaction to simplistic problems; depressed states

for varying periods of time; and hostile, sometimes punitive, attitudes

toward their infant. Ten percent were referred for psychiatric

treatment within six months following delivery.

Leifer (1980), in an effort to describe the psychological effects

of motherhood, interviewed 19 women during their first pregnancy. She

interviewed these women once during their first, second and third

trimesters, at three days postpartum and at six to eight weeks

postpartum. Her interviews consisted of both structured and open-ended

questions. Her results provided descriptive information regarding

women's attitudes toward change in their appearance during pregnancy

and postpartum period as well as changes in their emotional life during

this time.

Regarding attitudes toward change in appearance, Leifer suggested

that once the pregnancy had become outwardly evident, a negative view

and apprehension about their appearance was expressed. During the

second trimester, positive feelings about their physical appearance


were at the highest level. These women expressed enjoyment in wearing

maternity clothes and receiving increased attention from others.

Leifer postulated that the pregnant appearance evoked an enhanced sense

of womanliness and pride. However, coupled with these positive

feelings was a growing sense of anxiety concerning bodily changes.

Leifer indicated that women who gained weight rapidly were concerned

that they would not regain their appearance once the baby was born. In

addition, there were concerns that minor bodily changes such as stretch

marks and prominent veins would permanently damage their body or cause

a loss of sexual attractiveness. Some women expressed an anxiety of

damaging inner organs. In the third trimester, Leifer reported that

negative feelings about bodily changes were frequently quite intense.

After the baby was born, these women expressed a dissatisfaction

with their appearance, often more intense than reported during the

prenatal period. Leifer hypothesized that during pregnancy the women

had a sense of pride about being pregnant. The increased attention and

the pleasure received from fetal movements often compensated for

feelings of unattractiveness during pregnancy. These were missing in

the postpartum period.

Leifer reported significant changes in women's emotional affect

during pregnancy. Overall her findings support a view of pregnancy as

a turbulent, difficult period with a general trend toward negative

affect. The most common reactions expressed during pregnancy included

increased anxiety, increased self preoccupation associated with a

decline of emotional investment in the external world, and increased

emotional instability. At two months postpartum, women reported

moderate to extreme negative affect. Leifer indicated that more than

50% expressed that their general mood was more markedly negative than

was typical prior to pregnancy. In addition, she suggested that the

women believed that their negative moods were more pervasive and

intense than had been true during pregnancy. Leifer reported that many

of the women were anxious not only because their moods did not resemble

their customary way of being, but also because their moods did not

resemble the way they thought women are supposed to feel as a mother.

However, Leifer indicated that when support from significant others was

provided, women experienced less strain in coping with the maternal

role. In particular, the degree to which the husband was able to

provide both emotional support and practical assistance in child care

and maintaining the household appeared to be a crucial factor

influencing the degree of emotional unrest experienced by new mothers.

The experiences of pregnancy, birth and parenthood were also

examined in a study by Grossman, Eichler and Winickoff (1980). A major

goal of this study was to identify those factors early in pregnancy

that are associated with adaptation in pregnancy, labor and delivery

and the postpartum period. They interviewed 93 women from early

pregnancy through one-year postpartum. Grossman et al. found several

factors that influence a woman's experience of pregnancy. They

indicated that, initially, a woman's experience of pregnancy is closely

associated with her general level of life adaptation. Her ability to

cope with life events and stress in the past was predictive of her

ability to cope with this particular stage in her life. In addition,

their results suggested that a woman's ability to experience the

anxiety associated with pregnancy but not be overwhelmed by it has a

significant influence on her adaptation to pregnancy. Another factor

believed by Grossman et al. to influence the experience of pregnancy

was a woman's level of psychological and physical dependency and her

ability to accept an increased level of this dependency. They

postulated that acceptance of increased dependency can be achieved if

she asks for assistance, especially from her husband and he is able to

respond. If she is unable to accept the increased dependency, she will

feel isolated, unsupported and vulnerable, thus adding to her

psychological burden.

Grossman et al. did compare women experiencing a first-time

pregnancy with those who were experienced mothers. They stated that

for first-time pregnancies there seems to be a genuine crisis during

the pregnancy period. First-time mothers were much more consumed and

emotionally involved in the pregnancy and in its meaning to them.

Their findings supported the need for creating more educational and

supportive programs for those women who are becoming parents for the

first time.

Positive psychological outcomes during the labor and delivery

period were associated with women who had fewer obstetrical

complications during delivery or had adapted to the maternal role by

the time of delivery. These women expressed lower levels of anxiety,

more positive feelings about motherhood and a deeper commitment to

religion. Grossman et al. found that in the postpartum period

maternal adjustment was related to the level of anxiety and to the

degree of marital satisfaction expressed during the months of


In summary, the transitional period of pregnancy, childbirth and

the early postpartum term has been described as a time of crisis within

a normal developmental sequence. The length and effects of this period

of transition depend upon each individual woman's own personal

experiences and attitudes at the time. Studies in this area have

identified a variety of pre-pregnancy, pregnancy and postpartum factors

influencing these experiences and attitudes as well as affecting the

woman's successful adaptation to pregnancy and motherhood. However,

one factor, the husband-wife relationship, is mentioned by a majority

of the studies as the single most significant influence on pregnancy

and maternal adaptation. They emphasize the importance of the

husband's providing reassurance and assistance to the mother,

decreasing her anxiety about pregnancy, childbirth and childbearing,

thus allowing her to feel comfortable and effective in her role.

Intervention Techniques

Fathers are clearly aware of the general lack of recognition of

their importance in the infant's life (Obrzut, 1976). Many fathers

report that even concerned professionals have failed to offer guidance

and support for a more active and involved postpartum role (Earls,

1976; Fein, 1976; Lamb, 1976b; Parke & Sawin, 1976). The primary


method for involving the father in the perinatal events has been Lamaze

or childbirth preparation classes. Childbirth education programs

define and structure a definite role for the expectant father. This

role mainly centers around the mother, preparing the father to aid her

by participating in labor and delivery. Few, if any, programs exist to

sustain and further define or expand the father's involvement. Rarely

do these classes prepare the father for the coming-home experiences.

Heise (1975) suggested that these preparation classes should also be

geared toward increasing the expectant father's involvement during the

postpartum period. He believes that allowing expectant fathers time to

share their concerns with other men or to ask questions about their

roles or involvement after the child is born would be extremely


Other methods of intervention geared to the needs of both parents

have also been proposed. Gearing (1980) suggested a counseling program

to ease men's transition into parenthood. This program is designed

only for the expectant father, in conjunction with Lamaze or childbirth

preparation classes for the couple. Such intervention involves

counseling before, during and after birth counseling. A combination of

educational and counseling techniques are employed to develop the

father's potential for nurturance. A developmental psycho/educational

model is another proposed intervention (Resnick, Resnick, Packer &

Wilson, 1980). This model provides expectant parent classes for both

parents prenatally and father-infant classes until the child enters

school. In the prenatal classes, information is provided concerning

labor and delivery and prepared childbirth techniques. Open-ended

group discussion to facilitate communication between the couple and

alleviate stress and anxiety within the expectant mother and father is

recommended. After the child is born, only the father and the infant

attend the class. Knowledge and skills to promote infant development

as well as physical exercises for the baby are the mainstay of the

father-infant classes. The effectiveness of these new techniques has

not been measured. These models emphasize a direct and active

father-infant relationship and child care activities shared with the

wife. They also provide continued support and guidance for the father

to insure a more complete involvement with his child. This

intervention should help to increase the father's self-esteem and

marital satisfaction due to mutual participation in parenting (Fein,

1976; Lamb & Lamb, 1976).

Limitations of Previous Research

A variety of studies have sought to increase our knowledge and

understanding of fathers and mothers during the transitional period

from pregnancy through the postpartum weeks. The primary goals of

these studies have been twofold: 1) to describe the experience of

pregnancy, childbirth and early parenthood for both the father and the

mother; and 2) to identify those factors in pre-pregnancy, pregnancy,

and the postpartum period that predict successful adaptation or

problems in pregnancy, delivery and the postpartum period. However,

there are several conceptual and methodological features of these

previous studies that limit our understanding of this transitional


Even though a majority of studies single out the husband-wife

relationship and the father's ability to be supportive, in the form of

providing assistance with child care and household activities, as the

most influential factor in successful maternal adaptation to pregnancy

and parenthood, the primary concentration of these studies is almost

exclusively on the mother's experience. This continued de-emphasis of

the importance of the father reflects a serious conceptual drawback.

The more recent studies in this area (Entwisle & Doering, 1981;

Grossman, Eichler & Winickoff, 1980; Shereshefsky & Yarrow, 1973)

include in varying degrees, an interest in the significance of the

experiences of both the mother and the father as well as the influence

of their interaction. However, in a subtle manner these studies also

tend to emphasize the experiences of the mother over those of the

father. For example, there is a more comprehensive assessment of the

mother during the pregnancy, delivery and postpartum periods in terms

of the number and type of instruments used and by the larger number of

interviews that the mothers are asked to participate in as compared

with the father. Therefore, an overall accentuation of the mother's

experiences is presented.

Previous studies also contain several methodological limitations.

Studies attempting to describe experiences of pregnancy, birth and

parenthood are usually correlational in nature and therefore it is not

appropriate to predict causal relationships from results. Rather than


simply describe which factors are significantly related and therefore

might be causal, a majority of the studies in this area do propose

cause and effect relationships between pre-pregnancy factors and

pregnancy/postnatal adjustment or between pregnancy and postpartum

adaptation (e.g. Entwisle & Doering, 1981; Grossman, Eichler &

Winickoff, 1980; Shereshefsky & Yarrow, 1973). This problem of

inferring a causal relationship in correlational studies is usually

referred to as causal arrow ambiguity. In other words, can the

direction of causality be determined or might there be a third factor

involved? An example of this would be the finding that the father's

ability to be supportive is associated with successful maternal

adaptation. Possibly the mother's ability to adapt in the postpartum

period allows the father to be supportive or perhaps some other factor

such as the family's economic situation underlies that relationship.

Other methodological limitations include the following: 1) Some

studies use a cross-sectional rather than a longitudinal research

design (e.g., Bitterman & Zalk, 1978; Coleman & Coleman, 1972; Wapner,

1976). These studies tend to describe the experiences of expectant

parents prenatally and the experiences of new parents in the postpartum

period. However, due to the nature of a cross-sectional design they

use different samples prenatally and postnatally. Thus, they are

unable to describe the changes in attitudes and concerns that might

occur from the prenatal period to the postpartum period. 2) Rarely do

studies in this area use a control group to determine if the expectant

parents' responses to the questionnaires are significantly different


from what might ordinarily be expected in the general population (e.g.,

Coleman & Coleman, 1972; Entwisle & Doering, 1981; Fein, 1976;

Grossman, Eichler & Winickoff, 1980; Wapner, 1976). By not using a

control group, these studies dilute the significance of their results.

3) Several previous studies have not used random population samples, so

their results cannot be generalized to the entire expectant parenthood

population. Often these studies examined atypical populations of

expectant fathers/mothers such as those who participated in Lamaze

classes or childbearing instruction, those who were involved in high

risk pregnancies or those who were assessed to be at psychological risk

(Bitterman & Zalk, 1978; Curtis, 1955; Fein, 1976; Wapner, 1976). 4)

The procedures for assessing the experiences of men during pregnancy

and the early postpartum period are not always the most reliable. In

some studies paternal experiences are reported by their wives'

perceptions of their husbands' experience (Coleman & Coleman, 1972;

Pedersen & Robson, 1972). Other reports are from clinical studies

involving small populations and subjective interviewing techniques

(Deutscher, 1970; Dyer, 1963; Hobbs, 1963; Lacoursiere, 1972;

LeMasters, 1957).

Rationale: A Refinement of Previous Research

There is growing evidence supporting the concept that the months

directly preceding and directly following the birth of a first child

are critical and may be experienced as a crisis by both parents.

Several researchers have suggested that there is a need to provide

therapeutic interventions for parents beginning during pregnancy and

continuing through the early postpartum months. However, relatively

little is known about the reactions of parents, especially new fathers,

to pregnancy and parenthood. Without an adequate description of the

experiences of men and women during this transitional, crisis period,

it appears useless and ineffective to initiate intervention programs.

Any such intervention program would not be based on a strong foundation

of empirical information. Therefore, the primary aim of this present

research was to provide the additional descriptive information needed

for this foundation.

Realizing the limitations of earlier studies, a secondary aim was

to improve upon the methods that had been previously used. The

emphasis of this study was on describing the experiences of both

expectant and new fathers and mothers. This comparison of fathers and

mothers in the same sample is seldom made. The use of a longitudinal

design provides a more accurate picture of any changes in attitudes and

concerns from the prenatal to postnatal period and also clarifies the

similarities and differences between men and women. The same subjects

were interviewed both before and after the birth of their child with

the same interview questionnaire. A control group was included to

determine if the expectant/new parents' responses were significantly

different from what might be expected in the general population. The

control group also would reveal any effect of taking the same test

twice. Lastly, although the present study, like previous research in

this area, is correlational in design, this seems to be the appropriate

first step. However, at this point any significant results can only

suggest what might be causal. The intent is that follow-up studies

will be able to use this information to determine what factors are in

fact causal.

At present, no assessment instruments have been standardized for

use in describing the experiences of men and women during the period of

pregnancy, birth, and early parenthood. The instruments used in this

study, in particular the Parenting and Family Development

Questionnaires and the Parental Attitude Questionnaires, were selected

fortheir ability to measure expectant/new parents' attitudes and

concerns across a large range of topics in the area of pregnancy, birth

and parenthood. These instruments were intended to achieve the primary

goal of this study of describing reactions during this transitional


As an additional part of this description, two of the assessment

instruments were selected to clarify changes that occur in specific

psychological variables during pregnancy and early parenthood. Anxiety

is one of the psychological variables identified by previous research

as important during this period. However, throughout the literature

there are conflicting results as to the pattern of anxiety level,

especially for women, during pregnancy and the early postpartum period

(Grossman, Eichler & Winickoff, 1980). The State-Trait Anxiety

Inventory (Spielberger et al., 1970) was employed to clarify our

understanding of this psychological variable. A second psychological

variable of interest in earlier studies was sex-role identity. Leifer


(1980) suggested that during pregnancy and early parenthood, sex-roles

typically become more rigid and stereotyped, whereas Entwisle and

Doering (1981) found a greater flexibility in sex-roles. To assess and

clarify changes in sex-role identity during this transitional period

the Bern Sex Role Inventory (Bem, 1974) was included in the present


Hypotheses and Questions

The methodological approach of this study was exploratory,

descriptive and hypothesis-generating as well as hypothesis-testing.

This research strategy seems especially appropriate for comparing

expectant/new fathers' responses with expectant/new mothers' responses

to pregnancy and parenthood, since a relatively small amount of

information on which to develop hypotheses is available. However, with

respect to the psychological variables of anxiety and sex-role

identity, the research literature is more extensive and specific

hypotheses can be formulated and tested.

Although specific predictions regarding expectant/new fathers'

attitudes/concerns about pregnancy, labor/delivery and parenthood

cannot be made, some general questions can be asked:

1. What are the major attitudes/concerns regarding

pregnancy, labor/delivery, the early postpartum period

and parenthood for first-time expectant fathers? Are

these attitudes/concerns similar to those expressed by

first-time expectant mothers? After the birth of their

baby, do new fathers and mothers report different

attitudes/concerns regarding pregnancy, labor/delivery,

the early postpartum period, and parenthood than were

reported in the prenatal period? How do the

attitudes/concerns reported by expectant/new parents

compare with those expressed by couples who are not

expecting and do not have children?

2. How do expectant fathers perceive their

responsibilities with respect to child care? What

proportion of time do expectant fathers view as their

responsibility as compared to their wives' responsibility

in taking care of the baby when they are both home

together? Are these proportions different from those

reported by expectant mothers? How do these proportions

of time involvement in child care change after the baby's

birth? What similarities are there between expectant/new

fathers and mothers and non-pregnant, childless men and

women with respect to the amount of time they feel would

be their responsibility for child care?

Anxiety and stress are psychological variables repeatedly

mentioned throughout the literature as important factors in men's and

women's adaptation to both pregnancy and parenthood. For women,

several studies report that pregnancy symptoms such as nausea,

backache, dizziness, and fatigue are positively correlated with

measures of anxiety (Grimm & Venet, 1966; Shereshefsky & Yarrow, 1973;

Zemlik & Watson, 1953; Zuckerman et al., 1963). However, using the

State Index (current anxiety-related experience) of the State-Trait

Anxiety Inventory, Grossman, Eichler and Winickoff (1980) found that

average scores for expectant/new mothers and fathers were considerably

lower than the means reported by Spielberger, Gorsuch, and Lushene

(1970) for high school students, college students or psychiatric

patients. This was true both pre- and postnatally. Since the past

literature on anxiety is contradictory, no prediction can be made

regarding similarities or differences between the various subject

groups in their average scores for State or Trait Anxiety both during

Interview Session I (approximately one month before delivery for the

experimental group) and during Interview Session II (approximately one

month after the delivery for the experimental group). The question of

interest, then, is as follows:

1. Are experimental groups more anxious (in State

or Trait Anxiety) than the control groups? Are men more

anxious than women? Does anxiety change after the

experience of birth?

With respect to the relationship between anxiety and other measures,

the hypotheses are as follows:

1. There will be a significant negative correlation

between the degree of state anxiety and subjects' level

of comfort across the topics of pregnancy, birth and

parenthood as measured by the Parenting and Family

Development Questionnaire II for both Interview Session I

and II.

2. There will be a significant positive correlation

between the degree of state anxiety and the amount of

information requested concerning pregnancy, birth and the

early postpartum period on the Parenting and Family

Development Questionnaire III for both Interview Session

I and II.

3. It is also hypothesized that a significant

negative relationship will be found between level of

comfort and amount of information desired as measured by

the Parenting and Family Development Questionnaire II and

III, respectively. This should hold true for both


Research suggests that sex-typing is flexible and affected

significantly by changing life situations (Abrahams, Feldman & Nash,

1978; Entwisle & Doering, 1981; Feldman, Biringen & Nash, 1981).

However, a controversy exists regarding the impact of first-time

parenthood on sex-typing. On one side, research indicates that sex

roles become more rigid and stereotyped during pregnancy and the early

postpartum period (Leifer, 1980). In contrast, in a study examining

the impact of parenthood on sex-typing, Feldman and Aschenbrenner

(1983) report significant increases for both new fathers and mothers on

measures of feminine sex-type identity, feminine sex-role behaviors and

feminine sex-type personality. They suggest that this change in

sex-typing for fathers may be due to their planned equal involvement in


child care activities. The latter results seem more plausible because

of recent cultural changes regarding the social acceptability of

fathers' involvement in child care activities. A father's willingness

to engage in what have been considered feminine sex-role behaviors

requires him to reevaluate his own sex-type identity and personality.

Therefore, the following hypotheses were formulated for the present


1. There will be significant increase in the

selection of stereotypically feminine sex-type

personality traits as self descriptive for experimental

males from Session I to Session II. In Interview Session

II, experimental males will more strongly weight feminine

sex-type traits than the control males.

2. There will be a significant positive correlation

between choice of feminine sex-type traits and reported

amount of time engaged in child care activities for

experimental males.



Participants in the experimental group were 96 couples who were

expecting their first child. The sample was recruited from among the

patients of several obstetrician/gynecologists who were on the staff at

Franklin Square Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland. Only couples who

delivered normal infants were included in the study. A normal infant

was defined as appropriate for gestation age, no birth injury, no

deformity, no perinatal illness, and no extended hospital stay. One

couple was eliminated from the experimental group after the first

session by their own choosing. The experimental group consisted of

71 (74%) couples who received instruction for prepared childbirth and

25 (26%) couples who had no formal preparation. At delivery, 82% of

the infants were delivered vaginally and 18% delivered by caesarean


The control group included 24 couples who had no children and were

not pregnant during the course of the study. These subjects were drawn

from the same population pool as were the couples in the experimental

group. The control group was contacted from a list of gynecological

patients of the participating physicians at Franklin Square Hospital.

A Hotellings-T was performed on the demographic information

provided by the experimental and control subjects (t2(12,227) = 88.85,



p <.001). Significant differences between the two groups were found on

age, t(238) = -3.42, p = .001, education, t(238) = -3.80, 2 <.001, and

occupation, t(238) = -2.35, 2 <.05. Although there is no apparent

reason for these differences, they were taken into account in all

further analyses by using analysis of covariance.

On the average, husbands in the entire sample were a little more

than two years older than their wives (28.2 vs. 26.1 for experimental

couples and 31.0 vs. 28.5 for the control couples). The experimental

couples were married an average of one half year less than the control

couples (3.5 years vs. 4.0 years). Both groups were 96% Caucasian and

4% Negro. The average educational level was somewhat higher for the

control subjects as compared to the experimental subjects. On the

average, control males had completed post-bachelor's work, control

females had bachelor's degrees, experimental males had completed three

to four years of college and experimental females had completed two to

three years of college work. The average family income for both the

experimental and control subjects was in the eleven to twenty thousand

dollar range. The average number of children wanted by the

experimental group was one more than those in the control group (2.5

vs. 1.5).


Background Information Questionnaire. This questionnaire was

taken in large part from the Parenting and Child Development Education


Questionnaire developed by Resnick, Resnick, Parker, and Wilson (1980).

The information requested helped determine socioeconomic status and

educational level. In addition, the questionnaire included questions

about race and age.

Parenting and Family Development Questionnaire. This

questionnaire was used to identify the subjects' perspectives,

attitudes and feelings about becoming a parent and about child care

activities. The questionnaire was taken from the Parenting and Family

Development Questionnaire used by Resnick et al. (1980). The first

part asked subjects to state their concerns regarding pregnancy and

becoming a new parent. The second part required the subjects to report

their degree of comfort/discomfort concerning the activities of

pregnancy and child care. Control subjects were asked to state how

they thought they would feel about these activities. The third part

asked the subject to indicate areas regarding pregnancy, labor and

delivery, and child care in which they would like more information.

Parental Attitude Questionnaire. This questionnaire was adapted

from one developed by Wapner (1976) to investigate attitudes and

feelings of expectant fathers attending Lamaze classes. The items on

the questionnaire are categorized according to feelings and attitudes

concerning the family, parenthood, the pregnancy, the marital

relationship, behavioral involvement in the pregnancy, and the physical

responses to the pregnancy. The responses were "almost always,"

"often," "sometimes," or "never." The questionnaire was adapted to make


it appropriate for use with both mothers and fathers and for use before

and after birth. In addition, for statements specifically referring to

pregnancy, control subjects were asked to hypothesize how that

statement would reflect their feelings and attitudes.

State-Trait Anxiety Inventory. This instrument, developed by

Spielberger, Gorsuch, and Lushene (1970), is a measure of anxiety

experienced under two different sets of instructions. The test used in

this study measures the way a person feels in a particular situation

(A-State) and the anxiety usually felt by a person (A-Trait).

According to Spielberger et al., A-State is described as a transitory

emotional state or condition characterized by subjectively perceived

feelings of apprehension, tension and worry. A-Trait is viewed as a

relatively stable personality disposition of anxiety proneness.

Therefore, this inventory might be a way of separating anxiety aroused

by the state of pregnancy or birth from the anxiety generally felt by

the individual. Grossman, Eichler, and Winickoff (1980) conceptualized

the use of this inventory in just this way.

Bern Sex Role Inventory. The Bem Sex Role Inventory was developed

by Sandra Bern (1974) in response to a need for a measure of sex role

identification that does not posit that masculinity and femininity are

merely opposites of one another. Instead, the Bem Sex Role Inventory

treats these two dimensions as separation constructs which interact to

form another category of identification called androgyny. How an

individual perceives himself in a nurturing, caring role is a


reflection of concerns and anxieties. In particular, the Bem Sex Role

Inventory was utilized to assess subjects' perceptions of their

masculinity/femininity/androgyny, compassion and tenderness



Subjects in this study were contacted by telephone. A brief

description of the research and their involvement was given. The

experimenter told both the experimental and control couples he was

interested in husbands' and wives' feelings and attitudes concerning

pregnancy, childbirth and parenthood. The couples were asked to

complete a series of questionnaires which would provide this

information. They were also told that completion of the questionnaires

required forty-five minutes to one hour. The experimental couples were

informed that there would be a set of questionnaires one month before

their child's birth and a second set of questionnaires to be completed

approximately one month after their child's birth. The control group

was told there would be two sets of questionnaires to be completed,

with a two month interval between the first and second interview. Both

groups were informed that after the second set of questionnaires had

been completed, any questions they had regarding the study would be

answered. Of those couples contacted, approximately one-half of the

experimental couples and one-third of the control couples agreed to

participate in the study. In the experimental group, an appointment at

the beginning of the ninth month of pregnancy was arranged with each

couple who agreed to participate. An interview, in their home, was

conducted by the experimenter using the questionnaire instruments

already mentioned. Approximately one month after the couple delivered

their child, the same procedure was followed. The control group was

administered the instruments and retested approximately two months


Due to the nature of the specific instruments involved in the

study, rather than counterbalancing their presentation within the

experimental and control groups, a set order of administration was

used. Of particular concern was the effect that the Parental Attitude

Questionnaire and the Parenting and Family Development Questionnaire

might have on an individual's anxiety level as measured by the

State-Trait Anxiety Inventory or his responses to adjectives related to

sex role on the Bern Sex Role Inventory. Therefore, to alleviate the

possible effects of these questionnaires on the State-Trait Anxiety

Inventory and Bern Sex Role Inventory the order of presentation of the

assessment measures was as follows: Background Questionnaire,

State-Trait Anxiety Inventory, Ben Sex Role Inventory BSRI, Parenting

and Family Development Questionnaire and Parental Attitude



The present study was designed to describe the attitudes and

concerns of first-time expectant/new fathers and compare these with

those of first-time expectant/new mothers. In addition, a control

group was used to determine similarities and differences between

expectant/new parents and non-pregnant, childless couples. For clarity

in discussing the findings of this study, the results will be presented

in the following five sections: 1) Parental Attitudes/Concerns; 2)

Paternal Involvement in Child Care; 3) Parental Anxiety/Comfort; 4)

Sex-Role Traits; and 5) Correlations. Except for the Parenting and

Family Development Questionnaire I in Section 1 and the correlations

presented in Section 5, three-way analyses of covariance (covarying out

the effects of age, education, and occupation) were performed on sex

(2) x condition (2) x session (2) with repeated measures on the last

factor. All post-hoc comparisons were performed using a Tukey-B method

of analyses with p = .05.

Parental Attitudes/Concerns

Two of the questionnaires in the assessment dealt directly with

attitudes and concerns during the transitional period from pregnancy

through early parenthood. The first questionnaire, the Parenting and


Family Development Questionnaire I, asked subjects to specify their

greatest concern and their spouse's greatest concern regarding

pregnancy, labor/delivery, the early postpartum period and parenthood.

The second questionnaire, the Parental Attitude Questionnaire, directly

addressed subjects' attitudes on specific issues.

Tob analyze the results obtained from the Parenting and Family

Development Questionnaire I, each answer was assigned to a category by

two independent raters who achieved 92% agreement. An overall

chi-square was performed on sex (2) x condition (2) x each concern for

each session. Fisher's exact test was substituted for chi-square when

cell size was <5. Of the large number of chi-squares run, significant

differences between the subject groups were found for only three of the

concerns. Since this number of significant differences could occur

simply by chance, they are not reported here.

Tables 3-1 through 3-4 present the percentage of subjects

indicating a specific concern for each topic. Regarding pregnancy, the

health of the baby and the health of the mother were the major concerns

mentioned by all subject groups for both sessions, as presented in

Tables 3-1. In Session I, the percentage of subjects stating one of

these as their greatest pregnancy concern was 83.4% for control

females, 87.5% for control males, 88.5% for experimental females, and

90.7% for experimental males. In Session II, the percentages were

75.0% for control males, 83.3% for control females, 84.3% for

experimental males, and 91.7% for experimental females. Table 3-1 also

presents the percentage breakdown for spouse's concerns regarding

Table 3-1

Subjects' Greatest Concerns Regarding Pregnancy by Percentage

Session I Session II



Subjects' Own Pregnancy Concern

Health of Baby 34.4 58.3 25.0 41.7 20.8 46.9 12.5 20.8

Health of Mother 56.3 30.2 62.5 41.7 63.5 44.8 62.5 62.5

Nutrition 6.3 2.0 3.1 -- 4.2

Change in Lifestyle 3.1 2.1 -- 12.5 3.1 1.0 8.3 4.2

Responsibility 2.1 -- 4.2 -- 2.1 4.2

Responsibility of
Impending Parenthood 3.1 1.0 -- 4.2 2.1 1.0 8.3 --

None 1.0 2.1 8.3 6.3 3.1 8.3 4.2

Perception of Spouse's Pregnancy Concern

Health of Baby 45.8 30.2 25.0 8.3 42.7 46.9 16.7 12.5

Health of Mother 37.4 56.2 58.3 41.7 37.5 44.8 58.4 50.0

Nutrition 8.3 4.2 5.2 3.1 -

Change in Lifestyle 1.0 4.2 16.7 3.1 1.0 -

Responsibility -- 5.2 12.5 2.1 4.2 12.5

Responsibility of
Impending Parenthood 4.2 1.0 4.2 4.2 4.2 1.0 -- 8.3

None 4.2 2.1 8.3 16.7 5.2 3.1 20.8 16.7

Note: EM = Experimental Males; EF
Males; CF = Control Females.

= Experimental Females; CM = Control

Table 3-2

Subjects' Greatest Concerns Regarding Labor and Delivery by Percentage

Session I Session II



Subjects' Own Labor & Delivery Concern

Endure Pain Mother 42.7 41.7 8.3 58.3 24.0 35.4 12.5 33.3

Health Complications 44.8 51.0 66.7 37.5 58.3 56.3 70.8 54.2

Providing Emotional
Support 7.3 3.1 8.3 4.2 7.3 1.0 4.2 4.2

Husband Being There 3.1 8.3 3.1 4.2

Support From Doctor -- 3.1 1.0 2.1 -

None 2.1 1.0 8.3 6.3 5.2 8.3 8.3

Perception of Spouse's Labor & Delivery Concern

Endure Pain Mother 44.8 16.7 37.5 4.2 43.8 35.4 33.3 12.5

Health Complications 46.9 47.9 41.7 58.3 44.8 56.3 37.5 62.5

Providing Emotional
Support 5.2 18.8 8.3 1.0 1.0 4.2 -

Husband Being There 1.0 11.5 -- 12.5 4.2 4.2

Support From Doctor -- 1.0 2.1 --

None 2.1 5.2 20.8 16.7 9.4 5.2 20.8 20.8

Note: EM = Experimental Males; EF
Males; CF = Control Females.

= Experimental Females; CM = Control

Table 3-3

Subjects' Greatest Concerns Regarding the Postpartum Period by Percentage

Session I Session II



Subjects' Own Postpartum Period Concern

Health of Baby 24.0 13.5 20.8 20.8 29.2 12.5 29.2 25.0

Health of Mother 22.9 29.2 16.7 20.8 27.1 34.4 20.8 12.5

Change in Lifestyle 32.3 31.3 25.0 33.3 25.0 29.2 20.8 25.0

Providing Emotional
Support 8.3 1.0 8.3 4.2 2.1 -

Time and Energy
for Baby 2.1 13.5 12.5 16.7 6.3 15.6 8.3 25.0

Dealing With
Relatives/Friends 2.1 4.2 1.0 1.0 -

Being a Good Parent 2.1 4.2 4.2 4.2 2.1 3.1 4.2 4.2

Finding Day Care -- 1.0 4.2 -

None 6.3 2.1 12.5 4.2 5.2 2.1 12.5 8.3

Note: EM = Experimental Males; EF = Experimental Females; CM = Control
Males; CF = Control Females.

Table 3-3 continued

Session I

Session II



Health of Baby

Health of Mother

Change in Lifestyle

Providing Emotional

Time and Energy
for Baby

Dealing with

Being a Good Parent

Finding Day Care


Perception of Spouse's Postpartum Period Concern

21.9 12.5 33.3 16.7 29.2 12.5 33.3 20.8
















4.2 11.5 8.3 8.3 5.2 2.1 8.3 4.2

7.3 9.4 8.3 4.2 10.4 15.6 16.7 12.5





-- 8.3


14.6 12.5











Note: EM = Experimental Males; EF
Males; CF = Control Females.

= Experimental Females; CM = Control


Table 3-4

Subjects' Greatest Concerns Regarding Parenthood by Percentage

Session I Session II



Subjects' Own Parenthood Concern

Being a Good Parent 59.4 64.6 37.5 37.5 52.1 60.3 41.7 45.9

Responsibility 11.5 2.1 12.5 -- 13.5 1.0 16.7 8.3

Coping with the
Pressures 7.3 9.4 8.3 16.7 10.4 16.7 12.5 16.7

Mother Going Back
to Work 4.2 8.3 8.3 12.5 4.2 -

Time and Energy
for Baby 13.5 11.5 29.2 29.2 14.6 16.7 12.5 20.8

None 4.2 4.2 4.2 4.2 4.2 1.0 16.7 8.3

Perception of Spouses' Parenthood Concern

Being a Good Parent 47.9 41.6 41.7 33.3 50.0 60.3 50.0 41.7

Responsibility 6.3 27.1 12.5 29.2 5.2 1.0 8.3 25.0

Coping with the
Pressures 8.3 6.3 16.7 8.3 11.5 16.7 4.2 -

Mother Going Back
to Work 12.5 2.1 13.5 4.2 8.3 -

Time and Energy
for Baby 17.7 8.3 20.8 8.3 14.6 16.7 12.5 12.5

None 7.3 14.6 8.3 20.8 4.2 1.0 16.7 20.8

Note: EM = Experimental Males; EF
Males; CF = Control Females.

= Experimental Females; CM = Control


pregnancy, in both sessions. Again, for both sessions, the health of

the baby and the health of the mother were mentioned as their major

concerns. At least 50% of the subjects in each group indicated that

these were their spouse's concerns.

Concerns regarding labor/delivery are presented in Table 3-2. The

most common concerns in both sessions were health complications and the

mothers' ability to endure the pain. When asked about their spouse's

concerns regarding labor/delivery, again the two most common concerns

were health complications and the mothers' ability to endure pain.

Table 3-3 presents subjects' greatest concerns and their

perception of their spouse's concerns regarding the postpartum period.

Regarding their own postpartum concerns, a change in lifestyle, health

of the baby and health of the mother were the major concerns listed by

a majority of the subject groups in both sessions. Experimental and

control females also viewed having sufficient time and energy for the

baby as a concern. With respect to subjects' perception of their

spouse's concerns regarding the postpartum period, in Session I the

most common concern mentioned by the experimental males and females as

well as the control females was changes in lifestyle; while the most

common concern expressed by control males was the health of the baby.

The most common concerns in Session II were as follows: for

experimental and control males, the health of the baby; for

experimental females, the health of the mother; and for control

females, changes in lifestyle.

Subjects' concerns and perceptions of their spouse's concerns

regarding parenthood are presented in Table 3-4. Being a good parent

was the most common concern expressed by all subject groups, in each

session, as their own concern and as their spouse's concern.

The Parental Attitude Questionnaire, which directly addressed the

issue of attitudes, was originally used and analyzed by Wapner (1976)

in a study on expectant fathers in Lamaze classes. He separated the

statements on the survey into the following six subcategories:

feelings and attitudes about parenthood, feelings and attitudes about

the pregnancy, changes in the marital relationship, changes in the

sexual and physical aspects of the marital relationship, behavioral

involvement in pregnancy, and the incidence of physical symptoms. In

the present study subjects were asked to rate each statement as to how

well it reflected their attitudes and feelings. For statements which

specifically referred to pregnancy, control subjects were asked to

hypothesize how that statement would reflect their feelings and


The results from this questionnaire will be discussed within the

context of the subcategories mentioned above. The main data were the

mean scores on each statement within a subcategory for each subject

group, as presented in Table 3-5. The possible range of scores was 1 to

4 (l=never, 2=sometimes, 3=often, and 4=almost always). A three-way

analysis of covariance was performed on each statement.

In general, the experimental men and women as well as the control

men and women expressed feelings of comfort and confidence regarding

parenthood. That is, most of the means were closer to the end of the

scale reflecting comfort. A significant main effect was found for

Table 3-5

Mean Scores Per Item on the Parental Attitude Questionnaire
(l=never; 2=sometimes; 3=often; 4=almost always)

Session I Session II



Feelings and Attitudes About Parenthood

It's difficult to
anticipate but I think
I'll be a good parent. 3.55 3.50 3.38 3.29 3.59 3.55 3.33 3.50

I think I'll enjoy a
child when it is older. 3.45 3.43 3.42 3.25 3.60 3.55 3.46 3.50

As far as becoming a
parent goes, I have
no concerns. 2.18 1.97 2.04 2.20 2.25 2.21 2.38 2.00

I don't look at it as
becoming a parent.
The child will be an
addition but I will
not change. 1.55 1.67 1.58 1.54 1.76 1.61 1.67 1.63

I am not crazy about
babies when they are
small. 1.51 1.32 2.04 1.83 1.58 1.36 1.83 2.08

I worry about being
a good provider. 2.10 2.22 2.21 2.46 2.04 2.04 2.38 2.25

I think more about
my health. 1.84 2.45 1.75 2.25 2.02 2.35 1.83 2.25

Note: EM = Experimental Males; EF
Males; CF = Control Females.

= Experimental Females; CM = Control

Table 3-5 continued

Session I

Session II




Feelings and Attitudes About the Pregnancy

My spouse's discomfort
has been a hard thing
for me to deal with.

I have not really
thought about how I
feel about the

The pregnancy has
curtailed the time I
spend with my friends.

I don't think this is
the best time to have
a baby.

I am very conscious
of all of my spouse's
physical feelings.

I guess I feel we are
both pregnant.

2.07 1.67 2.29 1.88 1.97 1.73 2.21 1.46

1.74 1..41 2.29 1.88

1.77 1.67 1.92 1.58

1.97 1.73 2.21 1.46

1.96 1.81 1.96 1.88

1.48 1.58 2.38 2.50 1.47 1.51 2.29 2.54

2.98 2.82 2.92 3.04 2.88 2.78 2.12 3.00

2.55 2.86 2.33 2.42 2.55 2.86 2.67 2.33

Note: EM = Experimental Males; EF = Experimental Females; CM = Control
Males; CF = Control Females.

Table 3-5 continued

Session I

Session II




Feelings and Attitudes
About the Marital Relationship

My spouse really
needs me now.

I have to be more

Lately I find that
I want to be closer
to my spouse.

I feel more involved
and it feels good.

I'd like to share
more of my feelings
with my spouse.

I will feel concerned
if the baby becomes the
center of my spouse's

I feel my spouse has
been holding me too
tight, not letting me
do the things I like
to do.

3.38 2.98 3.08 3.04 3.51 3.07 3.42 3.08

3.24 2.86 3.08 2.33 3.28 3.06 3.13 2.92

3.17 3.51 3.13 3.08 3.24 3.48 3.21 3.13

3.13 3.14 3.13 2.71 3.21 3.21 3.08 3.13

2.67 2.88 2.71 3.00 2.60 2.83 2.96 2.88

1.81 2.08 1.96 1.79 1.69 1.70 1.96 1.92

1.57 1.24 1.54 1.54 1.60 1.34 1.54 1.33

Note: EM = Experimental Males; EF
Males; CF = Control Females.

= Experimental Females; CM = Control

Table 3-5 continued

Session I

Session II




Feeings and Attitudes About
the Sexual and Physical Aspects
of the Marital Relationship

In the last few months
I seem to have less
need for sex.

We are making
love less.

Physically our
relationship has
not changed.

My spouse is less
attractive physically
right now.

In the last few months
making love has become
more enjoyable.

I am concerned about
our sexual relationship
because I'm afraid of
hurting the baby.

2.14 2.51 1.63 1.54 1.98 2.43 1.50 1.67

2.79 2.90 1.83 1.79 2.73 2.78 1.71 1.58

2.14 1.95 2.50 2.46 2.27 2.01 2.21 2.13

1.64 1.20 1.50 1.33 1.44 1.21 1.42 1.29

1.93 1.92 2.38 2.33

2.09 1.79 2.46 2.42

2.22 1.67 1.67 1.54 1.88 1.50 1.71 1.42

Note: EM = Experimental Males; EF
Males; CF = Control Females.

= Experimental Females; CM = Control

Table 3-5 continued

Session I

Session II




Behavioral Involvement in the Pregnancy

I have talked with
our doctor about

I have changed my
recreational activities
so that I can spend
more time with
my spouse.

2.05 3.11 1.88 2.50 2.23 2.96 2.08 2.38

2.34 2.00 2.33 2.38 2.64 2.16 2.46 2.33

I have read about
pregnancy and
childbirth. 2.70 3.58 2.33 2.96

I have taken on extra
work around the house
(washing dishes, making
beds, vacuuming, etc.). 2.66 2.04 2.79 2.00

2.73 3.60 2.42 2.83

2.83 2.41 2.96 1.75

Note: EM = Experimental Males; EF
Males; CF = Control Females.

= Experimental Females; CM = Control

Table 3-5 continued

Session I

Session II




The Incidence of
Physical Symptoms Related to Pregnancy

I've felt tired more
often during the
last seven months.

I've had more
difficulty sleeping
during the last
seven months.

I've been suffering
from an upset stomach
in the last few months.

In the last few months
my appetite isn't what
it used to be.

I've had more
headaches recently.

I've been constipated
more than usual.

My joints have been
swollen during the
last few months.

2.10 3.20 2.04 2.42 2.27 3.19 2.38 2.33

1.77 2.91 1.83 1.92 1.90 2.78 2.00 1.79

1.31 2.00

1.38 1.67

1.29 1.65 1.58 1.75

1.40 2.23 1.25 1.75 1.47 2.38 1.63 1.58

1.32 1.40 1.25 1.71 1.32 1.75 1.42 1.54

1.17 2.11 1.17 1.42 1.17 1.75 1.21 1.58

1.07 2.14 1.21 1.33 1.06 2.21 1.04 1.58

Note: EM = Experimental Males; EF = Experimental Females; CM = Control
Males; CF = Control Females.


condition (experimental vs. control) on two of the statements in this

subcategory. Experimental subjects responded more positively to

whether they thought they would be a good parent, F(1,236) = 14.63, p


Regarding feelings and attitudes about the pregnancy, significant

main effects were found for sex and for condition on two separate

statements. Females indicated more strongly than males that they have

thought or would think about the pregnancy, F(1,236) = 8.05, p = .005

and, as might be expected, experimental subjects were more confident

than control subjects that now was a good time to have a baby, F(1,236)

= 55.86, p <.001.

When asked about recent changes within their marital relationship,

both experimental and control males expressed nurturant feelings toward

their wives. Males more strongly than females endorsed the notion

that, at this time, their spouses really needed them, F(1,236) = 8.91,

p <.001, and that they needed to be more understanding with their

wives, F(1,236) = 6.58, p = .01. However, the males more strongly than

females endorsed the statement that their spouses were holding on too

tight, F(1,236) = 4.89, p = .03. In addition, a significant main

effect for condition indicated that experimental subjects did express a

greater desire to be closer to their spouses, F(1,236) = 4.07, p = .04.

A significant interaction of session x condition was found on the

statement regarding the baby becoming the center of their spouse's

attention, F(1,236) = 5.39, p <.05. Follow-up tests indicated that

although there were no significant differences in Session I in concern

about the baby becoming the center of the spouse's attention, during

Session II experimental subjects were significantly less concerned

about this occurring than control subjects.

Several significant main effects for condition and for sex were

found on statements regarding sexual and physical aspects of the marital

relationship. The experimental subjects expressed less need for sexual

relations as compared with the control subjects, F(1,236) = 35.33, p

<.001, and female subjects reported less need for sexual relations in

the last few months than did the male subjects, F(1,236) = 3.93, P

=.05. Other significant differences between the treatment groups

included the experimental subjects stating they were making love less

frequently, F(1,236) = 83.30, j <.001, that lovemaking had not become

more enjoyable or had remained basically the same over the last few

months, F(1,236) = 13.87, j <.001, and they reported a greater concern

about having sexual relations for fear of hurting the baby, F(1,236) =

3.69, jp = .05. In addition, experimental and control males were more

concerned about hurting the baby than were their wives, F(1,236) =

7.75, j <.01.

Regarding behavioral involvement in pregnancy, the significant

main effects that were found for condition and for sex are not

surprising. Experimental subjects had read more about pregnancy than

the control subjects, F(1,236) = 20.08, p <.001; while female subjects

read more than their male counterparts, F(1,236) = 36.79, p <.001. The

experimental group reported more conversations with a doctor regarding

pregnancy than control subjects, F(1,236) = 7.16, p <.01. In addition,


a significant main effect for sex showed that female subjects expressed

that they had talked significantly more often with doctors about

pregnancy than did male subjects, F (1,236) = 22.72, j <.001. This was

qualified by a sex x session interaction, F (1,236) = 4.01, P <.05.

Follow-up tests indicated that although, in both session, male subjects

did report having talked with a doctor about pregnancy less often than

female subjects, male subjects did show a significant increase from

Session I to Session II while female subjects remained the same. Also,

male subjects felt they had taken on extra housework significantly more

often than did female subjects, F(1,236) = 31.92, p <.001.

The last subcategory on the Parental Attitude Questionnaire

involves physical symptoms that have been associated with pregnancy.

As might be expected, across a majority of the statements regarding

physical symptoms, the experimental females responded in a manner that

indicated they had experienced these physical symptoms to a

significantly greater degree than any of the other subject groups.

Significant main effects for condition and for sex were found on

several statements concerning physical symptoms. However, these were

qualified by significant condition x sex interaction on the following

statements: more tired, F(1,236) = 14.63, p <.001; greater difficulty

sleeping, F(1,236) = 21.02, p <.001; more swollen joints, F(l,236) =

13.83, p <.001; and greater change in their appetites, F(1,236) = 6.86,

_j <.01. Follow-up Tukey-B's indicated that experimental females

differed from other subject groups in their responses to these

statements. The experimental females felt these statements more

strongly reflected their feelings. In addition, significant main

effects for sex as well as significant interactions were found for

other statements related to physical symptoms. Female subjects

expressed having had more upset stomachs over the last few months than

did males, F(1,236) = 13.79, p <.001. Also, for this same statement a

condition x session interaction was found, F(l,236) = 6.73, j = .01.

Follow-up tests indicated that experimental subjects reported having

fewer upset stomachs during the postpartum session which yielded a

significant difference between the two treatment groups. Female

subjects reported having more headaches than their male counterparts,

F(1,236) = 10.91, p = .001. A significant three-way interaction, sex x

condition x session, indicated that the most headaches were reported by

experimental females in the postpartum period, F(1,236) = 5.80, p <.05.

Significant main effects for condition, F(1,236) = 30.78, p <.001, were

found for the statement regarding being more constipated than usual.

The experimental subjects and the female subjects expressed being more

constipated than usual. A significant three-way interaction, sex x

condition x session, was also found for this statement, F(1,236) =

5.20, p <.05. Follow-up tests showed that experimental females

expressed being more constipated in Session I than other subject

groups; that experimental females significantly decreased in the amount

they felt they were constipated from Session I to Session II, while

control females increased in their reported constipation from Session I

to Session II; and in Session II experimental and control females

expressed being constipated to a significantly greater degree than did

experimental and control males.

Parental Involvement in Child Care

Table 3-6 presents the average percent of time experimental and

control subjects reported fathers will engage in specific child care

activities while both spouses are home together, ideally (Sessions I

and II) in reality (Session I) and in actuality (Session II). Since

the control subjects did not have a child and therefore could not

respond to what proportion of time they were actually involved in child

care activities with the infant, this condition was not presented to

the control subjects in the second session. The analyses of covariance

for each activity, ideally and in reality/actuality, indicated no

significant main effects for sex or for condition. In addition, no

significant main effects for session were found for child care

activities in the ideal condition.

However, comparing only the experimental subjects in the reality

(Session I) and actuality (Session II) condition, significant main

effects for session were found for the following activities: bathing

the baby, F(1,190) = 23.03, p <.001; feeding the baby, F(1,190) = 4.54,

p <.05; and playing with the baby, F(1,190) = 5.14, p <.05.

Experimental subjects decreased their reported percent of paternal

involvement in these child care activities from the reality to

actuality conditions. Analysis of covariance was also used to compare

reported involvement in child care activities in the ideal condition

with reported involvement in the reality condition within Session I and

the ideal condition with the actuality condition (for experimental

Table 3-6

Percentage of Time Father Will Engage in Specific Child Care Activities

When Both Spouses Are Home Together

Session I Session II




Changing the Baby's
Diaper 40 44 38 44 40 43 42 40

Bathing the Baby 41 43 45 42 36 39 45 37

Feeding the Baby
(Not to Include
Breastfeeding) 44 45 48 44 40 45 44 41

Playing With Baby 52 52 50 49 48 51 49 50

Comforting Baby
When Distressed 47 49 46 46 44 48 44 44

Reality Actuality

Changing the Baby's
Diaper 30 30 36 28 34 30 -

Bathing the Baby 35 30 41 23 20 18 -

Feeding the Baby
(Not to Include
Breastfeeding) 40 36 40 32 36 32 -

Playing With Baby 51 51 48 46 43 46 -

Comforting Baby
When Distressed 44 42 39 39 37 38 -

Females; CM = Control

Note: EM = Experimental Males; EF = Experimental
Males; CF = Control Females.

subjects only) within Session II. In Session I, for all subject

groups, significant main effects were found for changing the baby's

diaper, F(1,236) = 5.80, p <.05; bathing the baby, F(1,236) = 6.12, p

<.05; and playing with the baby, F(1,236) = 5.81, p <.01. For Session

II, which included only the experimental subjects, significant main

effects were found for changing the baby's diaper, F(1,190) = 83.59, p

<.001; bathing the baby, F(1,190) = 121.00, p <.001; feeding the baby,

F(1,190) = 35.94, p <.001; and playing with the baby, F(1,190) = 24.16,

p <.001. Experimental and control subjects expressed a significant

decrease in reported percent of involvement in these child care

activities from the ideal condition to the reality condition within

Session I. Experimental subjects reflected a similar significant

decrease within Session II. Thus, subjects believed that ideally

fathers should be more involved in child care activities than they

thought would occur in reality or than what actually did occur for the

new fathers. It should be noted that the activity with the largest

percentage of reported paternal involvement in all groups, whether in

reality or actuality, was playing with the baby, while the activities

with the lowest percentages in most of the 14 groups were changing the

baby's diaper and bathing the baby.

Parental Anxiety/Comfort

Anxiety. This variable was measured by the State-Trait Anxiety

Inventory. Table 3-7 indicates the average score on State and Trait

Anxiety for experimental and control subjects. No significant main

Table 3-7

Mean Anxiety Scores for the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory

Session I Session II


Type of Anxiety EM4 EF CM CF EM EF CM CF

State 32.02 33.34 31.46 31.41 30.94 30.99 32.17 30.83

Trait 33.40 35.01 33.92 35.13 32.32 33.94 34.21 34.67

Note: EM = Experimental Males; EF =
Males CF = Control Females.

Experimental Females; CM = Control


effects were found for sex, condition, or session. The average scores

on the State Index of Anxiety, for all subject groups, are comparable

to those obtained by Grossman, Eichler, and Winickoff (1980) for

expectant/new mothers and fathers. In addition, the average scores for

both State Anxiety and Trait Anxiety are lower than the means described

by Spielberger, Gorsuch and Lushene (1970) for high school students,

college students or psychiatric patients. Thus, pregnancy and birth do

not appear to increase anxiety, at least as measured by this inventory.

Level of Comfort. The Parenting and Family Development

Questionnaire II measured the subjects' level of comfort across a wide

variety of issues related to pregnancy and parenthood. In Table 3-8

the average level of comfort is presented for each subject group. It

should be noted that scores on each item of this questionnaire range

from 0 to 5 with 0 representing the least degree of comfort and 5

representing the highest degree of comfort. Therefore, a total score

of 285 would indicate complete comfort with all of the items in the

questionnaire. On the average, subjects expressed themselves as

relatively more comfortable than uncomfortable on the issues related to

pregnancy and parenthood. Even the lowest mean comfort score, for

control males in Session II, of x = 209.96 indicates an average

individual item mean of x = 3.70 and reflects the somewhat comfortable

end of the scale. A significant main effect for session was found on

level of comfort, F(1,236) = 6.13, p <.05. This was qualified by a

condition x session interaction, F(1,236) = 5.00, 2 <.05. The

follow-up tests indicated that although there were no significant

Table 3-8

Mean Comfort Scores on the Parenting and Family Development
Questionnaire II

Session I Session II



211.60 215.22 215.13 210.08 219.58 222.80 209.96 216.04

Note: EM = Experimental Males; EF = Experimental Females; CM = Control
Males; CF = Control Females.

differences between the treatment groups in Session I, a significant

difference between the experimental and control groups was found in

Session II. This difference in Session II was a result of the

experimental subjects' significantly increasing their reported level of

comfort from the prenatal session to the postnatal session. Thus, in

the post session experimental subjects expressed a higher level of

comfort with issues related to pregnancy and parenthood than control


Information Regarding Pregnancy and Parenthood. The Parenting and

Family Development Questionnaire III asked subjects to circle topics,

related to pregnancy and parenthood, on which they would like more

information. The average number of information items circled by each

subject group is presented in Table 3-9. Significant main effects for

condition, F(1,236) = 23.06, p <.001, and for session, F(1,236) =

62.45, p <.001, were found for amount of information requested.

However, these were qualified by a condition x session interaction,

F(1,236) = 8.76, p <.01. Follow-up tests indicated that the

experimental and control subjects differed significantly in the average

number of information items requested in both Session I and Session II.

Experimental subjects requested fewer items of information than did

control subjects, especially in Session II. In addition, both

treatment groups showed a significant decline in the average number of

items requested from Session I to Session II. Control males sought the

highest number of information items in both sessions, an average of

approximately 22 items in Session I and 19 items in Session II.

Table 3-9

Mean Number of Information Items Requested on the Parenting and Family
Development Questionnaire III

Session I Session II



15.40 15.15 21.83 19.00 8.66 9.16 19.17 15.88

Note: EM = Experimental Males; EF =
Males; CF = Control Females.

Experimental Females; CM = Control

Sex-Role Traits

The Ben Sex-Role Inventory was used to assess the degree to which

an individual's self-perception is stereotypically masculine or

feminine. Each subject received a masculinity score and a femininity

score with high scores on each scale reflecting greater perceived

amounts of those characteristics. The mean scores on masculinity and

femininity for experimental and control subjects is presented in Table

3-10. A significant main effect for sex was found for masculinity mean

scores, F(1,236) = 43.81, p <.001, and for femininity mean scores,

F(1,236) = 10.84, p = .001. Not surprisingly, males considered the

masculine traits to be self descriptive to a greater extent than did

females, and females considered the feminine traits to be self

descriptive to a greater degree than did males. A more interesting

outcome is a significant condition x session interaction found on

femininity mean scores, F(1,236) = 7.06, p <.01. Follow-up tests

indicated that experimental subjects rated the feminine traits higher

than the control subjects and that the experimental subjects but not

the control subjects, significantly increased their femininity mean

score from Session I to Session II.

Ben (1981) indicates a manner of classifying individuals as

masculine, feminine, androgynous or undifferentiated, depending upon

how their scores fall relative to the predetermined median score of

4.95 for masculinity and 4.90 for femininity. Therefore, a

classification of masculinity would indicate a masculine mean score at

Table 3-10

Mean Masculinity and Femininity Scores on the BEM Sex Role Inventory

Session I Session II



Masculinity 5.35 4.55

Femininity 4.81 5.15

Note: EM = Experimental Males; EF
Males; CF = Control Females.

5.30 4.62 5.39 4.59 5.33 4.60

4.75 5.05 5.01 5.19 4.74 5.02

= Experimental Females; CM = Control


or above 4.95 and a femininity mean score below 4.90; a classification

of femininity refers to a femininity mean score at or above 4.90 and a

masculinity mean score below 4.95; an androgynous classification would

reflect masculine and feminine mean scores at or above their respective

medians; and an undifferentiated classification indicates mean scores

below their respective medians.

Although the mean scores appear, in absolute terms, similar in all

groups, using the classification system described above the subject

groups would not be classified the same. In Session I, the

experimental and control group males would be classified as masculine,

while the experimental and control group females would be classified as

feminine. However, in Session II the experimental group males would be

classified as androgynous with the other subject groups maintaining

their Session I classifications. Figure 3-1 presents the mean femininity

scores for experimental and control subjects. Although no significant

interaction was found for sex x condition x session, an a priori t-test

was performed comparing Session II femininity mean scores for

experimental and control males. A significant difference on Session II

femininity mean score was found between the experimental and control

males, t(118) = 2.692, p <.01 (two-tailed). Thus, experimental males

considered the feminine traits more descriptive of self in Session II

than did control males. This occurred without a decrease in their

ratings of masculine traits. These results support the hypothesis that

in interview Session II, experimental males would more strongly weight

stereotypically feminine sex-type traits than control males.

* Experimental

O Control


0 Control


Figure 3-1

Change in Mean Femininity Scores

5.30 -

5.20 -