The effects of co-parenting/intergenerational co-parenting interventions during the postpartum period: A systematic review

Int J Nurs Stud. 2021 Jul:119:103951. doi: 10.1016/j.ijnurstu.2021.103951. Epub 2021 Apr 24.


Background: Co-parenting interventions have been offered, particularly to enhance paternal involvement in infant care. However, little is known about whether such co-parenting interventions can be effective in improving the psychological health of families and co-parenting outcomes during the postpartum period.

Objectives: The aim of this review was to examine the effects of interventions on the co-parenting relationship of families, the psychological health of members involved, and on co-parenting outcomes during the postpartum period.

Methods: This was a systematic review with a meta-analysis. Randomized controlled trials of co-parenting intervention studies were selected following the standardized methods recommended by the Cochrane Handbook for Systematic Reviews of Interventions Version 6. The Cochrane Risk of Bias Assessment tool was used to assess the risk of bias in the included studies.

Results: Twelve co-parenting randomized controlled trials were included in this review. Most studies reported positive effects in promoting at least one domain of co-parenting in mothers and/or fathers, especially in co-parenting support, couple communication, parent-child interactions and reducing co-parenting undermining. Meta-analysis showed that mothers in the intervention group showed significantly lower depressive symptoms compared to those in the control group. The only online co-parenting intervention identified produced similar effects to that of face-to-face interventions on improving co-parenting support, and reducing co-parenting undermining. Only one study focused on parent-grandparent co-parenting, which reported positive effects on 'family management' and 'cooperation in childcare between mothers with depressive symptoms and their 'mother-in-law'. Another study found that significantly more mothers continue to breastfeed in the intervention group compared to the control group at 12 weeks postpartum as a positive outcome in co-parenting.

Conclusion: Co-parenting interventions have demonstrated some positive effects on co-parenting support, co-parenting undermining, couple communication, parent-child interactions of parents and the depressive symptoms of mothers. Limited evidence was found on the overall effects on co-parenting, division of labor, childrearing agreement, the psychological health of fathers, parenting self-efficacy and baby feeding practices. Further studies are recommended to examine the effects of interventions for intergenerational (parent-grandparent) families on co-parenting, the psychological health in parenting, parenting self-efficacy and baby feeding practices during the postpartum period by adopting online approaches.

Keywords: Co-parenting; Intergenerational co-parenting; Parenting stress; Parents’ psychological health.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Fathers*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Mothers
  • Parenting*
  • Parents
  • Postpartum Period