Research Topic

Perinatal Mental Health: Expanding the Focus to the Family Context

About this Research Topic

In the past decades, there has been increasing focus not only on obstetric and neonatal factors related to pregnancy and childbirth, but also on psychosocial ones, such as perinatal mental health (i.e., mental health during pregnancy and within the first years postpartum). This was, for example, seen in the proliferation of research on perinatal depression and its impact on child development. Research on psychological reactions to pregnancy and childbirth has also focused on fear of childbirth, anxiety, and posttraumatic stress symptoms following childbirth. Although it seems obvious that the entire family is involved, the vast majority of research on perinatal mental health has focused only on (expectant) mothers. We wish to expand the focus by adding the perspectives of fathers/partners, as well as the wider family. Furthermore, we would like to expand the focus by including the psychosocial impact of pregnancy and childbirth on both parents’ and family mental health, as well as the impact of their mental health on other relevant outcomes, such as family relationships and different aspects of child development.

Our aim with this Research Topic is to form a collection of articles, which together will help researchers and clinicians, on the one hand, to learn how the family context affects parental mental health issues and, on the other hand, how pregnancy and childbirth related mental health issues may affect not only the couple but also the wider family. This may help to better understand the lived experience of (future) parents and other family members during the perinatal period, and important mental health issues that may arise. In addition, it may help to identify risk and protective factors for perinatal mental health problems. In turn, this knowledge may facilitate the development of ways of supporting women and families from pregnancy to postpartum, including evidence-based interventions aimed at prevention and/or treatment.

Sample subtopics include:
- Fathers’/partners’ perceptions of and reactions to pregnancy and childbirth;
- Fathers’/partners’ involvement in pregnancy, childbirth, and early parenthood;
- Dyadic studies examining mutual effects between soon-to-become parents;
- Maternal and paternal identities in the modern family;
- The role of grandparents during the perinatal period;
- LGBT families and alternative family constellations;
- Intergenerational transmission of stress- and trauma-related consequences.

Mental health may include depression, anxiety, fear of childbirth, posttraumatic stress disorder, anger, emotional well-being, positive emotions etc.

Articles ought to be primarily based on original research or comprise a systematic review (with meta-analysis, if possible). However, narrative literature reviews, brief research reports, and mini-reviews will also be considered. Empirical research should employ robust research designs, quantitative or qualitative.

Dr Suzannah Stuijfzand kindly provided the cover image for this Research Topic.


Keywords: Perinatal Period, Childbirth, Mental Health, Family, Partner


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

In the past decades, there has been increasing focus not only on obstetric and neonatal factors related to pregnancy and childbirth, but also on psychosocial ones, such as perinatal mental health (i.e., mental health during pregnancy and within the first years postpartum). This was, for example, seen in the proliferation of research on perinatal depression and its impact on child development. Research on psychological reactions to pregnancy and childbirth has also focused on fear of childbirth, anxiety, and posttraumatic stress symptoms following childbirth. Although it seems obvious that the entire family is involved, the vast majority of research on perinatal mental health has focused only on (expectant) mothers. We wish to expand the focus by adding the perspectives of fathers/partners, as well as the wider family. Furthermore, we would like to expand the focus by including the psychosocial impact of pregnancy and childbirth on both parents’ and family mental health, as well as the impact of their mental health on other relevant outcomes, such as family relationships and different aspects of child development.

Our aim with this Research Topic is to form a collection of articles, which together will help researchers and clinicians, on the one hand, to learn how the family context affects parental mental health issues and, on the other hand, how pregnancy and childbirth related mental health issues may affect not only the couple but also the wider family. This may help to better understand the lived experience of (future) parents and other family members during the perinatal period, and important mental health issues that may arise. In addition, it may help to identify risk and protective factors for perinatal mental health problems. In turn, this knowledge may facilitate the development of ways of supporting women and families from pregnancy to postpartum, including evidence-based interventions aimed at prevention and/or treatment.

Sample subtopics include:
- Fathers’/partners’ perceptions of and reactions to pregnancy and childbirth;
- Fathers’/partners’ involvement in pregnancy, childbirth, and early parenthood;
- Dyadic studies examining mutual effects between soon-to-become parents;
- Maternal and paternal identities in the modern family;
- The role of grandparents during the perinatal period;
- LGBT families and alternative family constellations;
- Intergenerational transmission of stress- and trauma-related consequences.

Mental health may include depression, anxiety, fear of childbirth, posttraumatic stress disorder, anger, emotional well-being, positive emotions etc.

Articles ought to be primarily based on original research or comprise a systematic review (with meta-analysis, if possible). However, narrative literature reviews, brief research reports, and mini-reviews will also be considered. Empirical research should employ robust research designs, quantitative or qualitative.

Dr Suzannah Stuijfzand kindly provided the cover image for this Research Topic.


Keywords: Perinatal Period, Childbirth, Mental Health, Family, Partner


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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Submission Deadlines

30 June 2020 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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Topic Editors

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Submission Deadlines

30 June 2020 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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