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Perceptions of Postpartum Cognitive Functioning

15 April 2011


The purpose of this paper is to explore the relationship between women’s perceptions of mothers’ postpartum cognitive functioning as a product of depicted time postpartum as well as respondents’ reproductive history. Respondents included women with children and childless women. Respondents were randomly assigned to one of two conditions: to read a vignette either depicting a fictional mother 12 weeks postpartum or 24 weeks postpartum. The Profile of Mood States (POMS), in addition to author-written items, were used to assess differences in respondents’ perceptions of the fictional mother to which they were assigned. Statistically significant differences were found between vignette conditions on subscales measuring perceived depression and vigor as well as on an item measuring perceived ability to sustain attention. No significant differences were found on the majority of subscales and author-written items. Also, no significant differences were found between participants who had children and those who didn’t. The results are mostly consistent with past studies, tentatively fill in some gaps in the current literature, and suggest further directions for research.


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