Paths From Adverse and Benevolent Childhood Experiences to Personal Growth After Childbirth: The Role of Psychological Distress, Social Support, and Self-Compassion

Miriam Chasson, Orit Taubman Ben-Ari

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: Dealing with the difficulties and demands of the postpartum period may be distressing for the mother, but it is also an opportunity for her to experience personal growth. One factor that may contribute to this growth is the mother’s childhood experiences. Objective: Using a prospective study design, and based on Belsky’s parenting model and personal growth theory, we examined the direct and indirect contribution of mothers’ adverse and benevolent childhood experiences and their current psychological distress, selfcompassion, and social support to their personal growth following childbirth and motherhood. Method: A convenience sample of 392 women was recruited through social media and participated in the study about 16 weeks after childbirth (Phase 1) and again 6–10 months postpartum (Phase 2). Findings: The direct effects of adverse and benevolent childhood experiences on personal growth were not significant. However, multiple significant paths of indirect associations were found through psychological distress, selfcompassion, and social support. Conclusions: To understand the roots of the mother’s personal growth, researchers and clinicians alike should not only explore her personal resources, but also the primary processes that contribute to the creation of those resources, that is, childhood experiences. Addressing the mother’s childhood experiences may help her to better understand the connections between the past and the present, and to identify the implications of her “ghosts and angels” for her mental state, personal resources, and experience of personal growth.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)S28-S38
JournalPsychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy
Volume16
Early online date15 Feb 2024
DOIs
StatePublished - 15 Feb 2024

Keywords

  • childhood experiences
  • personal growth
  • psychological distress
  • self-compassion
  • social support

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Social Psychology

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