Expectant parents' anticipated changes in workload after the birth of their first child

D. Gjerdingen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVE: We hoped to evaluate gender differences in prenatal workload and anticipated prenatal to postpartum changes in workload for a group of expectant parents. METHODS: We included a total of 149 couples who were living together, expecting their first child, and enrolled in prenatal classes presented by 2 metropolitan hospitals. The couples completed a prenatal survey containing information about demographic characteristics and prenatal work responsibilities and a worksheet listing the number of hours per week that each partner planned to devote to various household, child care, and employment responsibilities at 6 months postpartum. RESULTS: Though both men and women anticipated large increases in workload from the prenatal to the postpartum period, women expected greater increases (85% vs 53%). As a result of their greater anticipated involvement in household work and child care, women planned to work 9 hours more per week than men after the arrival of the baby. These expectant parents tended to occupy somewhat traditional gender work roles, with women contributing more time to cooking, cleaning, laundry, and shopping, and men devoting more time to lawn care, snow removal, household repairs, and employment. Men appeared to be more satisfied than women with their partner's contribution to household work (mean=6.0 and 5.4; P=.000). Partners' perceptions of how they shared household work were congruent, with 90% of the couples' summed congruency scores in the range within 1 point of a perfect match. CONCLUSIONS: Expectant parents in this study anticipated large increases in workload after childbirth. The projected work increases were greater for women than for men. It is interesting to note that these gender differences are anticipated even when couples were given an opportunity to systematically plan their postpartum work distribution together.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)993-997
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Family Practice
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 27 2000


  • Employment
  • Perinatal care
  • Puerperium
  • Work

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