First-Time Motherhood Experiences and the Decision to Have a Second Child

Julie F.H. Cassé*, Mirjam Oosterman, Brenda L. Volling, Carlo Schuengel

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Mothers’ experiences with their firstborn child may be relevant for understanding the further growth of families. Dutch women (N = 795) reported on motherhood experiences during pregnancy and the first year. Direct effect models of mood symptoms, birth expectations, and child negative reactivity, and indirect effect models via parenting self-efficacy were tested to discriminate mothers who had, wanted, were undecided, and did not want a second child at a 2-year follow-up. Results indicated that mothers with two children had higher prenatal parenting self-efficacy and less postnatal trait anxiety compared with those who wanted a second child. There was no evidence for indirect effects of mood symptoms, birth expectations, or negative reactivity on having a second child via parenting self-efficacy. Also, mothers who did not want a second child had more unmet expectations regarding childbirth and, surprisingly, reported less child negative reactivity than other mothers. Implications of these findings are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)555-578
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Family Issues
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2018


  • childbirth
  • first-time motherhood
  • mood symptoms
  • parenting self-efficacy
  • second child


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