Mental Health across Motherhood Status: An Examination of Mediating Factors

Kayla M. Pritchard, Christina D. Falci

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Motherhood represents a valued status in American culture especially for biological mothers within stable first-marriages. Focusing on partnered women, this study examined how and why mental health differed across three motherhood statuses: biological-only, step-only, and double mothers (i.e., both biological and step). Using data from the National Survey of Fertility Barriers (NSFB), we found lower life satisfaction among step-only and double mothers compared to biological-only mothers. More economic hardship, lower quality romantic relationships, and higher rates of cohabitation fully explained the differences between biological-only and double mothers in life satisfaction. Differences between biological-only and step-only mothers are partially explained by self-esteem and cohabitation. Double mothers also reported higher psychological distress than biological-only mothers. This difference is partially explained by lower romantic relationship quality and more economic hardship among double mothers. We found no differences in psychological distress between step-only and biological-only mothers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1083-1111
Number of pages29
JournalJournal of Family Issues
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1 2020


  • cohabitation/informal marriages
  • dyadic relationship/quality/satisfaction
  • economic issues
  • family demography
  • remarriage
  • step-families

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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