Objectives: Transition to parenthood is characterized by a high level of stress, which can affect couples’ relationship and quality of life. Limited research compares the relationships and trends in stress, marital relationship and quality of life between both couples across the perinatal period. This study examined the associations, changes over time and gender differences in the stress, marital relationship and quality of life of Chinese couples during the perinatal period. Methods: A convenience sample of 130 couples participated in this longitudinal study. Data on the assessment of stress, marital relationship and quality of life were collected by validated measures during the second or third trimester of pregnancy and at 6 weeks, 6 months and 12 months postpartum. Results: Both couples experienced an increased level of stress at 6 weeks postpartum and a gradual decline in marital relationship from pregnancy to 1 year postpartum. The mental component of women’s quality of life declined sharply at 6 weeks postpartum and recovered at 6 months postpartum. The physical component of quality of life showed gradual improvements from pregnancy to 1 year postpartum for the women, but a decline for the men. The women showed more stress and poorer marital relationship and quality of life than their partners, and the women’s levels of stress, marital relationship and mental component of quality of life were closely related to those of their partners’ across the perinatal period. Stress was related negatively to marital relationship and quality of life, and a positive marital relationship was associated with better quality of life during the perinatal period. Conclusion: The study highlights the need to adopt couple-based approaches in clinical practice directed at helping partners develop realistic expectations and manage stress, which are essential to promoting marital relationships and quality of life during the transition to parenthood.
- Marital relationship
- Quality of life
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
- Obstetrics and Gynaecology
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health