Mothers

The latest material added to the Australian Institute of Family Studies library database is displayed, up to a maximum of 30 items. Where available online, a link to the document is provided. Many items can be borrowed from the Institute's library via the Interlibrary loan system.

See more resources on Mothers in the AIFS library catalogue

Substance use during pregnancy, birth and the postnatal period: an evidence check rapid review

Oei J, Azim S, Lee E, Blythe S, Black K, Eapen V, Lintzeris N, Gribble K, Dahlen H, Schmied V, Dunlop A, Lingam R, Elliott E, Katz I, Kemp L, Richmond R, Schofield D, Clews S, Bown L, De Haan K and Jackson M
Glebe, N.S.W. : Sax Institute, 2021.
Substance-use issues in pregnancy are one of the most preventable causes of poor pregnancy outcomes. This rapid review summarises the latest evidence on intervention and treatment of substance use during pregnancy, birth and the postnatal period. It investigates which interventions are most effective at improving outcomes for women and children, reducing risk of harm in breastfeeding women, treating neonatal substance withdrawal syndromes, and preventing the resumption of tobacco smoking and other substance use after birth. The review was commissioned to update the NSW Health Clinical Guidelines for the Management of Substance Use during Pregnancy, Birth and the Postnatal Period

From being 'at risk' to being 'a risk' : journeys into parenthood among young women experiencing adversity.

Blaxland M, Skattebol J, Hamilton M, van Toorn G, Thomson C and Valentine K
Families, Relationships and Societies 11 Oct 2021: Advance online publication
This article explores young care leavers transtion to motherhood. When young women from the care child protection system become mothers, they change from being regarded as 'at risk' themselves to be being 'a risk' to their baby. Drawing on interviews with young mothers, the article looks at their changed experiences with the child protection system, how they adapt to motherhood, and their ongoing adversities and lack of support.

Labour force status of families: June 2021.

Australian Bureau of Statistics
Canberra : Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2022.
This website provides information on the employment status of families in Australia, as of June 2021. The data indicates that, in June 2021, 19.5% of all families were jobless, and 9.3% of families with children under 15 were jobless. For couple families with dependants, joblessness decreased 29.6% since June 2020, after an increase of 53.5% from June 2019. 24.4% of couple families with children aged 0-4 years have both parents working full-time, while 73.7% of couple families with children under 15 have mothers who are employed. Data is produced from the monthly Labour Force Survey. The webpage also includes information on the number and types of families.

Intergenerational disadvantage: why maternal mental health matters

Low F, Gluckman P and Poulton R
Auckland, N.Z. : Koi Tu, 2021.
Research suggest that in addition to environmental factors, there is also a biological basis in how intergenerational disadvantage becomes manifest and is perpetuated. This paper provides an overview of this issue and highlights new research that shows that stress during pregnancy - even at mild to moderate levels - can affect development of a child's executive function. It discusses how this ties into the problem of intergenerational disadvantage in New Zealand, and necessitates a rethink in how the cycle of intergenerational disadvantage can be broken.

Domestic and family violence, child support and 'the exemption'.

Douglas H and Nagesh R
Journal of Family Studies v. 27 no. 4 2021: 540-555
Claiming child support from a former partner runs the risk of exacerbating family violence. Though parents who have majority care of a child are generally required to seek child support from the other parent, it is possible to seek an exemption if there is a history of family violence. This article explores separated mothers' experience of the child support system, as part of a broader study on engaging with legal systems in cases of family violence. From the broader study, 25 women discussed the child support system and 8 discussed the exemption, raising ideas about improving the safety of separated parents and alternative approaches to the exemption.

Inquiry into responses to historical forced adoption in Victoria: final report

Victoria. Parliament. Legislative Council. Legal and Social Issues Committee
Melbourne, Vic. : Victorian Government Printer, 2021.
This report presents the findings and recommendations of an inquiry into responses to historical forced adoption in Victoria. The inquiry was established in 2019, and interpreted its brief to include what measures or avenues for recourse, if any, have been implemented since the delivery of the Victorian Parliamentary apology to support mothers and others who were also subject to the former policies and practices of forced adoption, as well as their effectiveness and gaps. It discusses the social and historical context, the adequacy of apologies and actions by the Victorian Government and non-government organisations, the impacts on mothers and adopted people, the impacts on other family members, redress schemes, the statute of limitations legislation and the significant injury test, birth certificates for people who are adopted, supports for accessing adoption records and family reunification, state and national specialised support services, and the future of adoption.

Clinical, financial and social impacts of COVID-19 and their associations with mental health for mothers and children experiencing adversity in Australia.

Bryson H, Mensah F, Price A, Gold L, Mudiyanselage S, Kenny B, Dakin P, Bruce T, Noble K, Kemp L and Goldfeld S
PLoS ONE v. 16 no. 9 2021: Article e0257357
The COVID-19 pandemic and its restrictions are having a negative impact on families, but little is known about the impacts on families who were already experiencing adversity before the pandemic. This article presents findings from an existing study of mothers and children participating in the right@home trial for at risk families in Victoria and Tasmania, during the children's age 6 assessment. The mothers were asked about the impacts of COVID-19 and their own and their child's mental health, as well as experiences of quarantine, job or income loss, and family stress and resilience. 319 families took part. The findings highlight the critical importance of financial stability for families during crises. Financial impacts and high family stress were associated with poorer maternal and child mental health. Difficulty managing children's learning at home was a common issue. However, many families also reported resilience and finding ways of coping, and this was associated with better mental health.

Maternal health and health-related behaviours and their associations with child health : evidence from an Australian birth cohort.

Ahmad K, Kabir E, Keramat S and Khanam R
PLoS ONE v. 16 no. 9 2021: Article e0257188
This article adds to what is known about the impact of mothers' health - particularly during pregnancy and in the year after childbirth - on children's outcomes. It looks at mothers' health, illness, stressful life events, and health behaviours including nutrition, physical activity, alcohol drinking and smoking during pregnancy and in the 15 months after childbirth, and health and illness in their children in infancy and at 12/13 years of age. Data is taken from the Longitudinal Survey of Australian Children. The study found that poor maternal health and lifestyle is significantly associated with an increased risk of poor health in their children.

Women, work, care and COVID

Macdonald F, Malone J and Charlesworth S
Melbourne : Centre for People Organisation & Work, RMIT University, 2021.
This report explores the impact of the COVID-19 lockdowns on women's work and family responsibilities and career opportunities. It draws on interviews with 14 employed women in Victoria with young families in late 2020, regarding paid work arrangements, workplace flexibility and support, dropping hours or work, home schooling, organising time and space, and family work and male partners. The findings highlight how traditional gender roles have been strengthened under the lockdown. In most households, women took on the additional work and organised the household so everyone else could get their work done. The triple load of family responsibilities, work, and home schooling took a toll on both women's stress and gender equality.

Reproductive health: contraception, conception, and change of life - findings from the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women's Health

Loxton D, Byles J, Tooth L, Barnes I, Byrnes E, Cavenagh D, Chung H, Egan N, Forder P, Harris M, Hockey R, Moss K, Townsend N and Mishra G
Newcastle, N.S.W. : Women's Health Australia, 2021.
This report explores a range of key issues on women's reproductive health across the lifespan and across generations. It looks at use of different methods of contraception, use of contraception after birth, pregnancy intentions and fertility problems, use of Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART), perinatal mental health, the menopause transition and its impact on health, and the impact of COVID-19 on family planning and contraceptive choices during 2020. Data is taken from the 1989-95, 1973-78, and 1946-51 cohorts of the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women's Health. In regards to the pandemic, the qualitative findings highlight how the COVID-19 crisis has been a catalyst for delaying pregnancy, deciding to never have children, confirming the desire to have children, or deciding to have children earlier than originally planned.

Where is the village? Care leaver early parenting, social isolation and surveillance bias.

Purtell J, Mendes P and Saunders B
International Journal on Child Maltreatment: Research, Policy and Practice v. 4 no. 3 2021: 349-371
Young people leaving care face higher rates of early parenting than other young Australians, placing them also at higher risk of poverty and child protection involvement. This article explores the risk factors and supports available in Victoria, drawing on consultations with 16 service providers. The workers highlighted how the lack of support provided during transition can lead to both early parenting and parenting challenges, as well as the personal challenges and social isolation they face - all issues also echoed in the research literature. They also raised the issue of surveillance bias, with these young people facing greater scrutiny by child protection services than other parents.

Stillbirths and neonatal deaths in Australia 2017 and 2018

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare
Canberra : Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2021.
This report presents statistics on perinatal deaths in Australia - that is, stillbirths and neonatal deaths within 28 days of birth. Though Australia is one of the safest places in the world for a baby to be born, 1% of babies die within the perinatal period, and this rate has only slightly decreased since 1999. This report includes information on: gestational age, birthweight, plurality, maternal characteristics, timing and causes, and investigations conducted. It also looks at near-term singleton perinatal deaths without congenital anomaly and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and their babies.

Denial of family violence in court: an empirical analysis and path forward for family law

Meier J
Washington, D.C. : George Washington University Law School, 2021.
This paper seeks to understand why mothers' claims of abuse are so widely denied in court. It presents findings from a study in the United States on cases involving both abuse and alienation claims. The study found that the family courts believed mothers' child abuse allegations less than one-third of the time, and believed only 1 in 49 cases of child sexual abuse when the accused father cross-claimed that the mother was alienating. Approximately one-third of mothers alleging a father's abuse lose custody, rising to one-half when the father cross-claims alienation. In response, the article urges changes in both the theory and practice of family law.

Experiences of receiving and providing maternity care during the COVID-19 pandemic in Australia : a five-cohort cross-sectional comparison.

Bradfield Z, Wynter K, Hauck Y, Vasilevskia V, Kuliukas L, Wilson A, Szabo R, Homer C and Sweet L
PLoS ONE v. 16 no. 4 2021: Article e0249902
This article explores maternity care during the COVID-19 pandemic, drawing on the views of women, their partners, midwives, medical practitioners and midwifery students. The survey was conducted in May-June 2020, and 3,701 people took part. While all the groups reported high levels of anxiety about COVID-19, women were more likely to be concerned about the health of themselves and their family while the professionals were more likely to be concerned about occupational exposure. The partners and the midwifery students also reported feeling isolated due to the changes to the way care was provided. There were also differences in satisfaction with the service and whether information was provided in a timely and clear fashion.

Australian women's experiences of receiving maternity care during the COVID-19 pandemic : a cross-sectional national survey.

Wilson A, Sweet L, Vasilevskia V, Hauck Y, Wynter K, Kuliukas L, Szabo R, Homer C and Bradfield Z
Birth: Issues in Perinatal Care 27 Jun 2021: Advance online publication
This article explores women's experiences of receiving maternity care during the COVID-19 pandemic. It presents findings from a survey of 3,364 pregnant and postnatal women, undertaken during the first wave of the pandemic in May-June 2020. The survey asked about personal characteristics, any changes to their birth plan, types of antenatal care received, if they were able to have their support people of choice, and if they were able to have visitors during their stay. Five main themes were identified: accommodating and making change; deprived of anticipated maternity experience; feelings of distress; doing it alone; and looking on the bright side. The study found both challenges and benefits in the changed services and processes. However, many women felt distressed and alone, with limited face-to-face contact with health practitioners, a need to coordinate much of their own care, or being unable to include their chosen support person during care.

ParentsNext: examination of Social Security (Parenting payment participation requirements - class of persons) Instrument 2021 : inquiry report

Australia. Parliament. Joint Committee on Human Rights
Canberra : Parliament House, 2021.
The Commonwealth Government's ParentsNext program aims to assist disadvantaged parents receiving Parenting Payment income support to enter the workforce, and includes such activities as playgroups, further study, and counselling. The 'Social Security (Parenting payment participation requirements - class of persons) Instrument 2021' specifies which types of people are subject to compulsory participation in the program and who would thus have their payments suspended, reduced or cancelled if they failed to take part. This inquiry evaluates the instrument from a human rights point of view. The review finds that the overarching objectives of the program are positive and promote a range of rights, such as the right to education and work. However, compulsory participation poses a risk for some ParentsNext participants, jeopardising their right to social security and an adequate standard of living and with flow on effects for their children. It recommends that the program instead be made voluntary or be amended to assist with the proportionality of the measure.

Expecting a baby during the COVID-19 pandemic: mental health concerns in pregnant women warrant new treatment approaches

Morris A
Los Angeles, CA : University of Southern California Center for the Changing Family, 2021
This paper looks at the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on pregnant women in the United States. It highlights findings from a survey of 641 pregnant women in April 2020, regarding social connection, economic and health care impacts, and psychological distress. The findings highlight the elevated psychological distress, stress, and loneliness experienced by these women, and the need for perinatal support. In particular, it considers the promising role of telehealth in providing support.

Women at work in the United States since 1860: an analysis of unreported family workers

Chiswick B and Robinson R
Bonn, Germany : IZA, 2021.
"Estimated labor force participation rates among free women in the pre-Civil War period [in America] were exceedingly low. This is due, in part, to cultural or societal expectations of the role of women and the lack of thorough enumeration by Census takers. This paper develops an augmented labor force participation rate for free women in 1860 and compares it with the augmented rate for 1920 and today. Our methodology identifies women who are likely providing informal and unenumerated labor for market production in support of a family business, that is, unreported family workers. These individuals are not coded in the original data as formally working, but are likely to be engaged in the labor force on the basis of the self-employment of other relatives in their household. Unreported family workers are classified into four categories: farm, merchant, craft, and boardinghouse keepers. Using microdata, the inclusion of these workers more than triples the free female labor force participation rate in the 1860 Census from 16 percent to 57 percent, more than doubles the participation rate in the 1920 Census from 24 percent to 50 percent, and has a trivial effect on the currently measured rate of 56 percent (2015-2019 American Community Survey). This suggests that rather than a steep rise from a very low level in the female labor force participation rate since 1860, it has in fact always been high and fairly stable over time. In contrast, the effect of including unreported family workers in the male augmented labor force participation rate is relatively small."--Author abstract.

Older mothers in Australia 2019

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare
Canberra : Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2021.
This paper looks at the characteristics and outcomes of women who give birth at age 35 or older. Using data from 2019 in Australia, it examines personal characteristics, smoking and obesity, use of antenatal care, labour and childbirth, infant outcomes, differences between older mothers having their first baby and those who've given birth previously, and differences for mothers aged 40 or over and mothers aged under 35. The average age of all women giving birth has been rising, including for first-time mothers. A quarter of women giving birth in 2019 were aged 35 or over, many for the first time.

Women's work: the impact of the COVID crisis on Australian women

Wood D, Griffiths K and Crowley T
Carlton, Vic. : Grattan Institute, 2021.
The recession from the COVID-19 pandemic has particularly affected women - they were more likely to lose their jobs, more likely to do a lot more unpaid work, and less likely to get government support. This paper highlights this recession has hit women much harder than men and reviews federal and state government responses. To address these issues, it makes recommendations to support women by maintaining stimulus payments, reducing overall unemployment, boosting income support, and improving child care affordability.

'What's Mum's password?' : Australian mothers' perceptions of children's involvement in technology-facilitated coercive control.

Dragiewicz M, Woodlock D, Salter M and Harris B
Journal of Family Violence 8 Jun 2021: Advance online publication
This article explores how fathers involve children in technology-facilitated coercive control of mothers. It presents findings from interviews with 12 mothers on their views of how children were involved, as part of a broader study on technology-facilitated abuse. The findings highlight how children are also victims of coercive and how parenting is a key site of abuse. The obligation to share information about children and co-parent constrains the mothers' ability to keep themselves and their children safe.

Pregnancy and birth outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women: 2016-2018

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare
Canberra : Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2021.
This report looks at adverse outcomes for Indigenous mothers and infants during pregnancy and birth and the mother and child risk factors. It compares data for Indigenous and non-Indigenous mothers in Australia from 2016-2018, for perinatal deaths of mothers, stillbirth and neonatal death of infants, pre-term birth, and low birthweight. The majority of babies born to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women are healthy, but about 1.5% of babies are stillborn or die within the first month. Low birthweight babies have 11 times the risk of perinatal death and 13.5 times the risk of neonatal death, while preterm babies face 8 times the risk of perinatal death and 12.7 times the risk of neonatal death.

Can positive mindsets be protective against stress and isolation experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic? : a mixed methods approach to understanding emotional health and wellbeing needs of perinatal women.

Davis J, Gibson L, Bear N, Finlay-Jones A, Ohan J, Silva D and Prescott S
International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health v. 18 no. 13 2021: Article 6958
The article explores the wellbeing and support needs of pregnant or new mothers during the COVID-19 pandemic. Data is taken from the broader ORIGINS in Western Australia, with a sub-sample of 174 women. The article investigates if, and how, COVID-19 had impacted the women's emotional health and wellbeing, use of wellbeing information and services, and their views on how the wellbeing needs of pregnant women could best be supported during a crisis. A particular focus is the relationship between emotional health and wellbeing and support needs and the association between two resilience factors - mindfulness and self-compassion - and the women's mental health. The findings highlight the unique emotional wellbeing needs of pregnant and new mothers during a crisis, and the potentially protective role of resilience traits and positive mindsets.

The drivers of mothers' parental leave decisions: evidence from the Growing Up in New Zealand longitudinal survey.

Noy S and Sin I
Wellington, N.Z. : Ministry of Social Development, 2021.
This report looks at mothers' use of parental leave in New Zealand, including their leave intentions, preferences and the actual leave taken after birth. It uses data for more than 2,500 working mothers from the Growing Up in New Zealand longitudinal study. The study found that though the mothers preferred an average of 69 weeks of leave, they anticipated 36 weeks and actually took 53 weeks. Money was the biggest force driving mothers back to work, with low income mothers were particularly constrained in the leave they could take and more likely to have to return to work earlier than they'd planned. Self-employed women, on the other hand, both preferred and took much less maternal leave than employee mothers, and were more likely to return to work because of work responsibilities. Many women who ended up out of work for several years after having a child did not prefer or plan this. Rather, their work opportunities eroded over time, partially driven by a lack of accessible childcare or flexible work access.

Risk factors for maltreatment in siblings of abused children.

Kisely S, Strathearn L and Najman J
Pediatrics v. 147 no. 5 2021: Article e2020036004
Little is known about the siblings of abused children. Although they share the same parents and environments, are they also at risk, and do they experience similar forms or levels of maltreatment? This article adds to the evidence with a study of 520 sibling pairs in the Mater-University of Queensland Study of Pregnancy (MUSP), linked with child protection data. The participants were also asked about childhood sexual abuse when they surveyed at 21 years of age. The study found that notification for abuse of one child was associated with a 60-fold increase in the likelihood of a notification in their sibling, in particular for neglect or sexual abuse. Over half of the young adults also reported sexual abuse when their sibling had disclosed it. A young maternal age was the strongest and most consistent predictor of abuse, with some association also with Indigenous status, maternal depression, parental relationship, and poverty.

Families in Australia Survey - Towards COVID Normal. Report no. 4, Impacts of COVID-19 on pregnancy and fertility intentions

Qu L
Southbank, Vic. : Australian Institute of Family Studies, 2021.
The COVID-19 pandemic and its restrictions have had a huge impact on many people's finances and social lives. Many people are wondering whether they should have a child at this time, and many expectant or new parents have faced additional challenges. This paper explores these issues, drawing on findings from women in the Families in Australia Survey from late 2020. Participants were asked whether they had been trying to have a child or another child before the pandemic, whether the pandemic had affected their plans, concerns about finances, whether COVID-19 had affected the timing of any current pregnancies, and impact on future intentions to have children. Over one in 10 of the participants had been trying for a first or additional child before the pandemic, with nearly a fifth ceasing trying to conceive at least partly because of the pandemic. Nearly a fifth of participants also reported that they would delay having children.

Becoming a mother in the 'new' social world in Australia during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sweet L, Bradfield Z, Vasilevskia V, Wynter K, Hauck Y, Kuliukas L, Homer C, Szabo R and Wilson A
Midwifery v. 98 Jul 2021: Article 102996
This article provides insights on becoming a mother during the upheaval and restrictions of the COVID-19 pandemic. It presents findings from interviews with 27 women, with raised themes of isolation and a lack of support, managing fear and safety, and self advocacy and resourcefulness.

More to lose? : longitudinal evidence that women whose social support declines following childbirth are at increased risk of depression.

Seymour-Smith M, Cruwys T and Haslam S
Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health 5 Apr 2021: Advance online publication
Studies have found that social support is associated with new mothers' mental health and adjustment. This article adds to the research by investigating whether changes in levels of social support across pregnancy and the postpartum period also have an impact. Using data from the Household Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) Survey, it looks at mental health and perceived social support in women in the years immediately before and after giving birth. The findings show that pregnancy and childbirth are a risky time for women's mental health. Though social support during the postpartum period was associated with better mental health, women who moved from having good levels of social support beforehand - who lost support across this transition - were at increased risk of mental ill health.

Finding the power within and without : how can we strengthen resilience against symptoms of stress, anxiety, and depression in Australian parents during the COVID-19 pandemic?

Mikocka-Walusa A, Stokes M, Evans S, Olive L and Westrupp E
Journal of Psychosomatic Research v. 145 Jun 2021: Article 110482
Research suggests that the social isolation and lockdown restrictions of the COVID-19 pandemic are having an effect on people's mental health, including that of parents. This article looks at the role of resilience and supports. Using data from a survey of 2,110 parents - conducted in April 2020, one month into the pandemic - it investigates resilience, mental health symptoms, and factors such as family resources, external social support, partner social support, personality, number of children, and education and finances. The study found that higher levels of mental distress was associated with higher levels of loneliness, while higher levels of social support was associated with lower levels of stress and anxiety - in particular, support from a partner significantly moderated the relationship between resilience and depression.

Cost of intimate partner violence during pregnancy and postpartum to health services : a data linkage study in Queensland, Australia.

Callander E, Bull C, Baird K, Branjerdporn G, Gillespie K and Creedy D
Archives of Women's Mental Health 15 Apr 2021: Advance online publication
This article presents estimates on the health service costs of intimate partner violence during and to 1 year after pregnancy. Data was taken from a Queensland hospital, for all women accessing antenatal services over 2 years. Of the 9889 women, 2.9% reported some form of intimate partner violence, with nearly a quarter of those referred to support services. Women reporting intimate partner violence had higher total costs for hospital services than their peers.
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