News Video | Policy | GPs | Hospitals | Medical | Mental Health | Welfare | Search


First time parenting a positive experience for mental health

Tuesday 22 January 2013

First time parenting a positive experience for mental health

Becoming a parent for the first time may improve mental health and reduce levels of psychological distress, according to a new study from the University of Otago, Wellington (UOW).

That’s the conclusion of research by Sarah McKenzie and Dr Kristie Carter from the Health Inequalities Research Programme at UOW after examining the responses of 6670 parents in the Statistics New Zealand longitudinal Survey of Family, Income and Employment (SoFIE).

The study looked at three ‘waves’ of longitudinal data from 2004/05 to 2008/09, and has just been published in the international Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.

“This is good news for new parents in New Zealand as it shows the effects of becoming a parent for the first time tends to have a positive effect on parents’ mental health. Whereas, no real impact on mental health was found for parents having subsequent (second, third or fourth) children,” says Ms McKenzie.

“However, it’s important to note the improvements in mental health and psychological distress are positive, but not large in our findings.”

“Interestingly, unlike some overseas studies, we didn’t find any major differences between men and women in changes in mental health and becoming a parent for the first time.”

The researchers say one of the reasons why the University of Otago study differs is it used a large sample (N=6670) of New Zealanders, including both men and women, as well as married, single and co-habiting parents. Previous research has only focused on certain population groups such as first-time mothers or young parents.

The study did not collect information on the intentions of those who became pregnant and whether pregnancies were planned or not so we cannot say exactly why there is an improvement. The study did however take into account partner status, employment status, deprivation and household income, Ms McKenzie says.

Further work is needed examining the impact of changes in socio-economic factors such as income and employment when a child comes along, as often there is a significant decrease in available income.

“At this point international evidence shows it’s very important for welfare policies to support the economic position of new parents to ensure their mental health is supported during this major change to their life and their children,” says Dr Carter.

This study was funded by the Health Research Council of New Zealand.


© Scoop Media

Culture Headlines | Health Headlines | Education Headlines


Scoop Review Of Books: Worldly And Unworldly

"Being Magdalene" by Fleur Beale The situations shown in this youth novel are shocking, scary, and very moving as we experience Magdalene’s struggle to be a perfect girl as defined by the cruel and unreasonable leader of “The Children of the Faith”, as she moves reluctantly into young womanhood. More>>

Whistle Stop: Netball NZ To Implement New INF Rules

Netball New Zealand (NNZ) will implement the new Official Rules of Netball, as set down by the International Netball Federation (INF), from January 1, 2016. Key changes include the elimination of whistle following a goal, amendments to injury time and changes to setting a penalty. More>>


Scoop Review Of Books: Waiata Aroha

Vaughan Rapatahana on Chappy by Patricia Grace: With this eminently readable novel Patricia Grace returns to the full-length fiction stage after a hiatus of ten years. More>>

'Ithaca' At Q Theatre: Introducing NZ's World Class Cirque Troupe

NZ’s very own cirque troupe is set to become a household name with the premier of its adaptation of Homer’s Odyssey having secured a key season in Auckland. More>>

Music Awards: The Tuis Are Broody This Year

Topping off a sensationally eventful year both at home and internationally, Nelson born brother-sister duo Broods has taken home four Tuis from this year’s 50th annual Vodafone New Zealand Music Awards. More>>


Sport: Richie McCaw Retires From Rugby

Richie McCaw has today confirmed he is hanging up his boots and retiring from professional rugby. The 34-year-old All Blacks captain and most capped All Black of all time has drawn the curtain on his stunning international career which started in Dublin 14 years ago, almost to the day, and ended in London last month when he hoisted the Webb Ellis Cup aloft for the second time. More>>


John McBeth: On Jonah Lomu

For many New Zealanders, the enormity of Jonah Lomu's reputation will have come as a surprise... His deeds were watched and enthused over by movie stars and musicians, politicians and superstars from other codes. He reached into the lives and homes of millions and mixed with famous people most New Zealanders would only have read about. More>>


Get More From Scoop



Search Scoop  
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news