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

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.

Impact of maternal age on children coming into contact with the child protection system

New South Wales. Dept. of Communities and Justice. FACS Insights, Analysis and Research
Ashfield, NSW : NSW Dept. of Communities and Justice, 2021.
Research has found that being a young mother is a significant risk factor for contact with the child protection system. This paper analyses child protection data from New South Wales to assess the impact of maternal age on the likelihood a child will come in contact with the child protection system, be found to be at Risk of Significant Harm (RoSH), or enter out of home care. The study finds that these mothers are on average younger than their peers in the general population. Children known to the child protection system are 3.5 times more likely to be born to a mother aged 20 and under and twice as likely to be born to a mother aged 26. The risk of child protection system involvement drops substantially after the age of 27. Maternal age is still a significant, but less powerful predictor for Aboriginal children. The findings highlight the need to support at-risk teenage girls and young women.

The intergenerational transmission of family violence : mothers' perceptions of children's experiences and use of violence in the home.

Meyer S, Reeves E and Fitz-Gibbon K
Child and Family Social Work 17 Feb 2021: Advance online publication
This article looks at the complex nature of adolescent family violence, focusing on the intergenerational transmission of violence and how mothers can be victimised by both their partners and later by their affected children. First, the article discusses the literature on the impact of intimate partner violence on children, the intergenerational transmission of domestic violence, the gendered nature of adolescent family violence, and mothers' help seeking behaviours. It then presents findings from a research study in Queensland, involving interviews with 9 mothers affected by both partner violence and violence from a child, identified as part of a broader study. The mothers' discussed the violence witnessed by their children, how children could be used to target the mothers, the adverse impacts on children's behaviour, and how the mothers make sense of children's violence and their own experiences of dual victimisation.

Adolescent family violence : findings from a group-based analysis.

Boxall H and Sabol B
Journal of Family Violence 22 Jan 2021: Advance online publication
This article adds to what is known about adolescent family violence, with a focus on differences by targeted victim. It compares offender characteristics and violence severity and frequency depending on whether the offending was directed against a mother, father, younger sibling, older sibling, or other family member. Data was taken from one cohort of offenders: 2,717 young people reported to police in Victoria in 2014 for family violence offences. The findings highlight distinct differences among the groups: when mothers were the victims, the violence was often frequent and ongoing and the mothers were also most likely to report being afraid of the offender. When 'other' family members were the victims, the violence often occurred in various contexts and with other offending.

Shifting inequalities? Parents' sleep, anxiety, and calm during the COVID-19 pandemic in Australia and the United States.

Ruppanner L, Tan X, Scarborough W, Landivar L and Collins C
Men and Masculinities 2 Feb 2021: Advance online publication
There has been speculation on whether the COVID-19 pandemic will promote gender equality, with the high rates of working from home leading to more men taking on housework and parenting. The article looks into this further, with a brief analysis of parent surveys from Australia and the United States. Surveys were conducted with 1,375 parents in May and September 2020, regarding changes to employment, working hours, housework, childcare, anxiety, restless sleep, and calmness. As expected, both mothers and fathers experienced significant changes in their job, housework, and childcare activities; however, the health impacts varied by gender and nationality. The findings suggest that COVID-19 has eroded traditional gender roles in Australia but reinforced them in the United States. Mothers in both countries picked up more housework and childcare during the pandemic. However, American fathers only helped out more in May, then pulled back to concentrate on work when the labour market began to recover in September. Australian fathers continued to spend more time on housework and childcare, but at the same cost women have suffered in trying to reconcile their work and family commitments: a rise in sleeplessness and anxiety.

Making paid work pay for families with children: addressing workforce participation disincentives.

Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Western Australia
Perth, W.A. : Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Western Australia, 2021.
This paper looks at how women in Western Australia can be supported to re-enter the workforce after having children. It highlights the economic benefits of increasing women's labour force participation, reviews the barriers to participation, and presents proposals on how these barriers can be addressed. One of the key drivers of the problem is childcare, and a key proposal of this paper is subsidising kindy programs in childcare centres, as is seen in other states and territories of Australia. Data shows that women with young children in Western Australia are more likely to work fewer hours than women elsewhere, and that their young children are more likely to attend more than provider of care, as parents try to juggle childcare services. Other recommendations include changes to the tax and transfer system, a more responsive early childhood education and care system, and increasing fathers' uptake of parental leave and flexible work.

Nurse home visiting and maternal mental health : 3-year follow-up of a randomized trial.

Goldfeld S, Bryson H, Mensah F, Gold L, Orsini F, Perlen S, Price A, Hiscock H, Grobler A, Dakin P, Bruce T, Harris D and Kemp L
Pediatrics 20 Jan 2021: Advance online publication
This article investigates whether the right@home nurse home visiting program for disadvantaged mothers also has a positive effect on mental health. The program is offered to pregnant women experiencing adversity, and is available til the child is two years of age. The trial of the program began in 2013 in Victoria and Tasmania, with 722 women including a control group. This article looks at mothers' outcomes one year after completing the program - that is, with the child now aged 3 years of age. The study found that right@home participants reported better mental health well after the program ended, including lower levels of depression, anxiety and stress and higher levels of wellbeing.

Moms' time - married or not

Hamermesh D
Cambridge, Mass. : National Bureau of Economic Research, 2021.
"Using time-diary data from the U.S. and six wealthy European countries, I demonstrate that non-partnered mothers spend slightly less time performing childcare, but much less time in other household activities than partnered mothers. Unpartnered mothers' total work time - paid work and household production - is slightly less than partnered women's. In the U.S. but not elsewhere they watch more television and engage in fewer other leisure activities. These differences are independent of any differences in age, race/ethnicity, ages and numbers of children, and household incomes. Non-partnered mothers feel slightly more pressured for time and much less satisfied with their lives. Analyses using the NLSY79 show that mothers whose partners left the home in the past two years became more depressed than those whose marriages remained intact. Coupled with evidence that husbands spend substantial time in childcare and with their children, the results suggest that children of non-partnered mothers receive much less parental care - perhaps 40 percent less - than other children; and most of what they receive is from mothers who are less satisfied with their lives."--Author abstract.

Children's language abilities at age 10 and exposure to intimate partner violence in early childhood : results of an Australian prospective pregnancy cohort study.

Conway L, Cook F, Cahir P, Brown S, Reilly S, Gartland D, Mensah F and Giallo R
Child Abuse and Neglect v. 111 Jan 2021: Article 104794
This article adds to what is known about the impact of mothers' mental health and victimisation on children's development, focusing on children's language skills at 10 years of age. Data is taken for 615 mothers and their first-born child in a pregnancy cohort study in Melbourne, Victoria. The study found that children whose mothers experienced intimate partner violence during the child's first four years had poorer language skills, including poorer abilities in receptive vocabulary, general language, and pragmatic language skills. Maternal depressive symptoms played some role, and was associated with poorer general language.

Child sexual abuse and pregnancy : a systematic review of the literature.

Brunton R and Dryer R
Child Abuse and Neglect v. 111 Jan 2021: Article 104802
Child sexual abuse is associated with many poor outcomes later in adulthood - this article looks at the impact on women during pregnancy and childbirth. It presents the findings of a systematic review of literature from over the last fifty years. Findings vary on the prevalence of a history of child sexual abuse among pregnant women, with studies ranging from 2.63% to 37.25%. However, these women experience greater health complaints, PTSD symptoms, anxiety, sleep problems, fear of childbirth, and difficulties with delivery. They also had higher rates of substance use and a higher risk of re-victimisation. Overall, these women have a greater risk of poor experiences of pregnancy and childbirth than women without a history of child sexual abuse.

The motherload : predicting experiences of work-interfering-with-family guilt in working mothers.

Maclean E, Andrew B and Eivers A
Journal of Child and Family Studies v. 30 no. 1 Jan 2021: 169-191
Many working women experience a sense of guilt when their work interferes with their ability to be a good parent. This article adds to what is known about the factors that cause or mediate this experience of guilt. It draws on a survey of 1,375 women with school-aged children, who were engaged in work or study for at least 15 hours per week. The survey asked participants about guilt over work interfering with family, work-family conflict, parenting self-efficacy, perceived social norms regarding maternal employment, and the degree to which they felt they deviated from an 'ideal' mother. The findings indicated that women who experienced high work-family conflict and felt they deviated significantly from being an ideal mother reported higher levels of guilt. On the other hand, a high sense of parenting self-efficacy and strong peer norms in favour of maternal employment were associated with less guilt.

Teenage mother's health across different life stages

Kalb G and Vu H
Indooroopilly, Qld. : Life Course Centre, Institute for Social Science Research, University of Queensland, 2021.
This paper adds to what is known about the poor lifetime outcomes often experienced by teenage mothers. It looks at health outcomes and what factors play a role in the increased risk of worse physical health, bodily pain, vitality, mental health, emotional functioning, social functioning, and emotional problems over a 15 year period. Data is taken from the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) survey, comparing women who had had a child before the age of 20 with women who had either had a child after that age or who had had no children. The findings indicate that teenage motherhood is negatively associated with health and that this impact worsens in later life. The findings suggest that these women were already at risk of disadvantage before becoming a mother, and that family, social support, education and economic factors partly explain the poor mental health outcomes, though not the physical health outcomes. In particular, better mental health outcomes for teenage mothers are associated with social support, a stable and positive partner relationship, and good economic outcomes.

Waijungbah Jarjums evaluation report

Queensland Health
Brisbane, Qld. : Queensland Health, 2020.
This report presents findings from a preliminary process and outcomes evaluation of the Waijungbah Jarjums model of care. The model was development through a co-design process between the Gold Coast local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community and the Gold Coast Hospital and Health Service Women's Newborn and Children's Service. Waijungbah Jarjums offers continuity of care by a known Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander midwife and child health nurse from conception to 2 years of age and is adapted from two prominent models of care: Birthing on Country and the First 1000 Days Australia. The evaluation looked at implementation, sustainability, and awareness of the model, and whether the model improves clinical outcomes, is culturally and clinically safe, and well-received by mothers and their families. Key enablers and barriers and cost-effectiveness are also considered.

Working parents, financial insecurity, and child-care: mental health in the time of COVID-19

Tani M
Bonn, Germany : IZA, 2020.
"The COVID-19 pandemic and the policy measures to control its spread - lockdowns, physical distancing, and social isolation - has coincided with the deterioration of people's mental well-being. We use data from the UK Household Longitudinal Study (UKHLS) to document how this phenomenon is related to the situation of working parents who now have to manage competing time demands across the two life domains of work and home. We show that the worsening of mental health in the United Kingdom is worse for working parents, and that it is especially related to the increased financial insecurity and the time spent on childcare and home schooling. We find that this burden is not shared equally between men and women, and between richer and poorer households. In crafting public policy responses to the pandemic, better outcomes can be achieved if policymakers are cognizant of these inequalities."--Author abstract.

Work, care and gender during the COVID-19 crisis

Hupkau C and Petrongolo B
Bonn, Germany : IZA, 2020.
"We explore impacts of the pandemic crisis and associated restrictions to economic activity on paid and unpaid work for men and women in the UK. Using data from the Covid-19 supplement of Understanding Society, we find evidence that labour market outcomes of men and women were roughly equally affected at the extensive margin, as measured by the incidence of job loss or furloughing, but if anything women suffered smaller losses at the intensive margin, experiencing slightly smaller changes in hours and earnings. Within the household, women provided on average a larger share of increased childcare needs, but in an important share of households fathers became the primary childcare providers. These distributional consequences of the pandemic may be important to understand its inequality legacy over the longer term."--Author abstract.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander care-leaver experiences: findings from the 2020 CREATE National Survey 'Transitioning to adulthood from out-of-home care - independence or interdependence?'

McDowall J
Sydney, N.S.W. : CREATE Foundation, 2020.
A study was recently conducted into the state of planning for leaving care, with a survey of 325 care leavers aged 18-25 from across Australia. This paper highlights findings from the 72 Indigenous young people who took part. The paper looks at key areas of concern, supports and services that needed improvement, and use of supports for cultural connection and young parenthood.

Transitioning to adulthood from out-of-home care: independence or interdependence? - key messages.

CREATE Foundation
Sydney, N.S.W. : CREATE Foundation, 2020.
This paper highlights key findings from a new study on young people leaving care. It looks at how much planning the young people received and their outcomes upon first leaving care. The survey was conducted in 2018 with 325 young people aged 18-25 across Australia. The paper highlights findings concerning care history and stability, consultation about changes, leaving school early, health and life skill needs, involvement with youth justice, transition planning, access to personal documents, sources of support, accommodation and homelessness, source of income, living with or contacting family members, future goals, and Indigenous people.

Transitioning to adulthood from out-of-home care: independence or interdependence?

McDowall J
Sydney, NSW : CREATE Foundation, 2020.
A 2009 study of young people leaving care found that many were unprepared - this new report investigates whether transition planning has improved over the last decade. It compares findings from the 2009 survey with findings from a 2018 survey of 325 young people aged 18-25 with experience of the care system. Participants were asked about their key issues, care experiences, leaving care preparation, after care support, educational support, life skills, health needs, youth justice involvement, access to personal documents, the leaving care experience, accommodation and homelessness, employment and finances, family connections, and support for parenting. Five key areas of concern emerged, regarding transitioning supports, caseworker turnover and training, carer training and commitment, placement stability and safety, and involvement in decision-making.

Teen parents

University of Tasmania. Peter Underwood Centre for Educational Attainment
Hobart, Tas. : Peter Underwood Centre, 2020.
This paper highlights the issues facing pregnant or parenting teens in Tasmania. It presents statistics and survey findings on: prevalence; the number of births by girls and women age 19 or under in Australia 2008-2018; teen parent aspirations for themselves and their child; barriers to success; and how schools can support these teenagers to remain in education. Though the teenage birth rate almost halved between 2008-2018, there are still thousands of teenage women giving birth in Australia each year, with particularly high rates in Tasmania.

Supporting Expecting and Parenting Teens (SEPT) Trial: independent evaluation - final report

Bakhtiar A, Te Riele K and Sutton G
Hobart : University of Tasmania, Peter Underwood Centre, 2020.
Supporting Expecting and Parenting Teens (SEPT) is a pilot mentorship program for teenage parents. Under the program, mentors provide practical guidance and support, connect the young people to appropriate supports, and help them develop plans for their future. This report presents the findings of an evaluation of the program, which has been trialled for a two-year period in several sites across Australia. The evaluation examined what aspects were working well and what could be improved, and considered whether the program could be adapted for other young people at risk of experiencing long-term disadvantage or welfare dependency. It found that the program design promotes participation and retention in the program, and helps provide a realistic pathway plan to education or employment.
Subscribe to