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Couples’ psychological adjustment to twin parenthood: mode of conception (spontaneous versus assisted reproduction) and gender differences

  • Iva Tendais (a1), Bárbara Figueiredo (a1), Catarina Canário (a1) and David A. Kenny (a2)
Abstract
Aim

To examine whether mode of conception and gender are associated with parents’ psychological adjustment across the transition to twin parenthood.

Background

There is limited knowledge on the psychological adjustment of couples to twin parenthood during pregnancy and early postpartum, especially for fathers. The available research suggests that first-time mothers of twins conceived by assisted reproduction techniques (ART) may experience lower psychosocial well-being than mothers of spontaneously conceived (SC) twins.

Methods

A total of 41 couples expecting twins, 25 of whom conceived spontaneously and 16 conceived by assisted reproduction techniques, completed measures of depressive and anxiety symptoms, marital relationship, attitudes to sex, and attitudes to pregnancy and the baby.

Findings

ART parents showed a decline in marital relationship quality, no changes in attitudes to pregnancy and the baby and no changes in attitudes to sex over the postpartum. In contrast, SC parents did not change their perception of the marital relationship, reported more positive attitudes to pregnancy and the baby, and more positive attitudes to sex over the postpartum. Compared with the other groups (SC mothers and fathers, ART fathers), ART mothers exhibited a higher increase in depressive and anxiety symptoms from pregnancy to postpartum and only anxiety symptoms exhibited a decline trend over the postpartum. These findings suggest that ART parents may experience more psychological difficulties during the transition to twin parenthood than SC parents. ART mothers, in particular, appear to be more at risk of high levels of postpartum depressive symptoms.

Copyright
Corresponding author
Author for correspondence: Iva Tendais, School of Psychology, Department of Applied Psychology, University of Minho, Campus de Gualtar, 4710-057 Braga, Portugal. E-mail: ivatendais@gmail.com
Footnotes
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a

Present address: Epidemiology Research Unit, Instituto de Saúde Pública, Universidade do Porto, Faculdade de Medicina, Rua das Taipas no. 135, 4050-600 Porto, Portugal.

b

Present address: Faculdade de Psicologia e Ciências da Educação, Universidade do Porto, Portugal.

Footnotes
References
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Primary Health Care Research & Development
  • ISSN: 1463-4236
  • EISSN: 1477-1128
  • URL: /core/journals/primary-health-care-research-and-development
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