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J Psychosom Res. 2017 Nov;102:8-14. doi: 10.1016/j.jpsychores.2017.09.002. Epub 2017 Sep 4.

Prenatal stress perception and coping strategies: Insights from a longitudinal prospective pregnancy cohort.

Author information

1
Department of Obstetrics and Fetal Medicine, University Medical Center Hamburg Eppendorf, 20246 Hamburg, Germany. Electronic address: j.goletzke@uke.de.
2
Department of Medical Psychology, University Medical Center Hamburg Eppendorf, 20246 Hamburg, Germany; Department of Primary Care, University Medical Center Hamburg Eppendorf, 20246 Hamburg, Germany.
3
Department of Obstetrics and Fetal Medicine, University Medical Center Hamburg Eppendorf, 20246 Hamburg, Germany.
4
Center for Internal Medicine and Dermatology, Department of Psychosomatic Medicine, Charite-Universitaetsmedizin Berlin, Berlin, Germany.
5
Institute of Medical Biometry and Epidemiology, University Medical Center Hamburg Eppendorf, 20246 Hamburg, Germany.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

Prenatal distress has been linked to pregnancy complications and poor offspring's health, despite the fact that longitudinal assessments of various stress dimensions are still lacking. Hence, we aimed to assess perceived stress over the course of pregnancy. Moreover, we examined whether social support and coping styles are linked to prenatal stress trajectories.

METHODS:

Data from 543 women participating in the PRINCE (Prenatal Identification of Children Health) study, a prospective population-based cohort study, was used for the present analyses. Once per trimester the women completed questionnaires regarding different psychometric measures, including the Perceived Stress Scale (PSS). Linear mixed regression models were used to examine perceived stress development longitudinally and to relate social support and coping styles to stress trajectories during pregnancy.

RESULTS:

A significant decrease of perceived stress was observed over the course of pregnancy. Stratifying the study sample according to parity, women delivering their first child had continuously lower perceived stress scores compared to women having already one or more children, and a significant decrease during pregnancy was exclusively observed in primiparous women. Both, positive coping strategies and higher perceived and received social support were independently associated with lower perceived stress, while evasive coping strategies were associated with higher levels of perceived stress.

CONCLUSION:

Our study reveals stress perception trajectories during pregnancies in primi- and multiparous women. Our findings underscore the need for intervention strategies aiming to improve social support and positive coping strategies especially in multiparous women in order to reduce the risks for adverse pregnancy outcomes.

KEYWORDS:

Coping strategies; Parity; Perceived stress; Pregnancy; Social support

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