Perinatal Preparation for Effective Parenting Behaviors: A Nationally Representative Survey of Patient Attitudes and Preferences

Matern Child Health J. 2016 Feb;20(2):298-305. doi: 10.1007/s10995-015-1829-4.


Objective: To characterize patient preferences about parenting preparation during pregnancy and the role of healthcare providers.

Methods: A nationally representative, cross-sectional survey was administered to parents of children 0-3 years old. Respondents (N = 459 non-institutionalized US adults from the GfK Knowledge Panel®) completed an online survey about parenting preparation (response rate = 61.2 %). Primary outcomes were perceived importance of parenting, regret about opportunities to prepare for parenting, acceptability of parenting support from healthcare workers, and preferred healthcare setting for perinatal parenting support. Statistical analyses included descriptive statistics, Chi square analyses and logistic regression.

Results: A majority of respondents (87.6 %, 95 % CI 83.3-90.8) believed that parenting had an equal or greater effect on early childhood behavior than the child's personality. Overall, 68.7 % (63.5-73.5 %) wished there were more opportunities during pregnancy to prepare for parenting, and a large majority (89.2, 84.9-92.4 %) believed that it would be helpful to receive parenting information from healthcare providers during pregnancy, with no differences across demographic groups. The preferred clinical encounters for receiving parenting education were at "a visit with my ObGyn/midwife" during pregnancy (58.2, 52.5-63.7 %) and at "a visit with my child's doctor/nurse practitioner" during 0-2 months postpartum (60.7, 55.0-66.2 %).

Conclusion: A majority of US parents of young children express interest in receiving parenting support at perinatal healthcare visits. Preferences for parenting support at prenatal visits during pregnancy and at pediatric visits in the immediate postpartum period should guide clinicians, community-based outreach organizations, and governmental stakeholders seeking to design and evaluate parenting preparation interventions.

Keywords: Antenatal education; Parenting; Pregnant; Prenatal.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attitude
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Health Promotion
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Parenting / psychology*
  • Parents / education*
  • Parents / psychology
  • Patient Preference*
  • Postpartum Period
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Care / methods*
  • United States