To examine prospectively the association between mothers' third trimester maternal social support, depression, and satisfaction with a male support figure and their infants' home stimulation 4 months after birth.
Prenatal clinics in three private obstetric offices and two public clinics in western Michigan, a postpartum ward in a community hospital, and subjects' homes at follow-up.
Patients or Other Participants
Nulliparous mothers who made at least one visit to a participating prenatal clinic during the third trimester who experienced vaginal deliveries, and whose infants were discharged from normal newborn nurseries between July 1988 and September 1989. One hundred thirty-five mothers agreed to participate, and 101 were available for follow-up home visits.
Main Outcome Measures
Home Observation for Measurement of the Environment, a measure of home stimulation.
Mothers' third-trimester social support explained 20% of the variance (P=.0001) in infants' home stimulation scores at age 4 months. Third-trimester social support was a stronger predictor of postnatal home stimulation than socioeconomic status, race, depressive symptoms, and satisfaction with a male support figure. Third-trimester social support continued to explain a significant amount of variance in home stimulation scores (R2=.06, P=.01) even after marital status was included in the model.
Mothers who report higher levels of social support during the third trimester of pregnancy provide higher levels of home stimulation for their infants. These findings suggest that primary care health providers may facilitate early child development by encouraging pregnant mothers to identify and make use of their social resources.