Military Families: Psychosocial Adaptation to Pregnancy


Name: Karen Weis

Rank: Maj, USAF

Organization: The Geneva Foundation

Performance Site: Keesler Medical Center - 81st Medical Group, Biloxi, MI, Wilford Hall Medical Center - 59th Medical Wing, Lackland AFB, TX

Year Published: 2002

Abstract Status: Final


Research shows that supportive nursing and counseling reduce low birth weight incidence and have long-term physical and emotional benefits for mother and child. Our purposes were to prospectively examine the influence of military separations and perceived social support on psychosocial adaptation to pregnancy and to determine the influence of first- and second-trimester family functioning and community support on maternal identity formation and infant birth weight.Using a longitudinal, repeated measures design, we gave the Social Support Index, the Prenatal Self-Evaluation Questionnaire, and FACES II in each trimester of pregnancy to 421 women of mixed parity, 18-35 years of age, all either active duty or dependant wives, receiving prenatal care at Brooke Army Medical Center, Keesler Medical Center, Randolph Air Force Base Clinic, or Wilford Hall Medical Center.Repeated-measures ANOVA was used to investigate within-subject effects on "Acceptance of Pregnancy" across the trimesters, with and without husbands deployed, at three levels of perceived community support. Hierarchical linear regression was used to assess anxiety effects on infant birth weight with the additional factors of family adaptability and network support.Statistically significant change occurred in "Acceptance of Pregnancy" across the trimesters. Women with deployed husbands reported significantly higher anxiety levels. Perceived support level had a statistically significant effect. Women with on-base supports perceived significantly greater support than those with off-base supports. Second trimester "Identification of the Motherhood Role" had a borderline significant effect on infant birth weight. Family adaptability in the first trimester and support network in the first and second trimesters significantly predicted birth weight.The findings reflect the significance of the husband's presence in maternal identity formation and provide evidence that perceived support networks can influence "Acceptance of Pregnancy." Interventions aimed at increasing support and building strong families would be more effective during the first and early second trimesters.