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J Fam Psychol. 2000 Dec;14(4):625-40.

Becoming a parent: the relation between prenatal expectations and postnatal experience.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada.


The relationship between individuals' prenatal expectations about parenthood and their postnatal experience of parenthood was examined. Seventy-three primiparous couples were interviewed during the 3rd trimester of pregnancy and asked open-ended questions regarding their expectations. A content analysis of these expectations identified several themes. A cluster analysis, using these themes as variables, identified 3 clusters of women labeled prepared, fearful, and complacent and 4 clusters of men labeled prepared, fearful, complacent, and mixed. Postnatal comparisons indicated that women and men in the prepared cluster generally demonstrated better adjustment than did individuals in the other clusters. Results are discussed in terms of the content of expectations about parenthood, gender differences in these expectations, and the association between prenatal expectations and postnatal experiences.

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