The dynamics of mental health during the transition to parenthood have not been a focus of research. Our prospective longitudinal study was designed to reveal whether there are differences in mental health during the transition to parenthood between parents undergoing treatment with assisted reproduction techniques (ART) and those who conceive spontaneously.
367 couples with a singleton ART pregnancy using their own gametes.
379 couples with a spontaneous singleton pregnancy. Men and women separately filled in questionnaires including the General Health Questionnaire: at the 18th-20th week of pregnancy, 2 months postpartum and 1 year postpartum (T3). The effect of social and child-related factors on mental health was examined.
ART women had fewer depressive symptoms during pregnancy than controls, but at T3 their depressive symptoms were at the same level as seen in controls. Anxiety symptoms increased among control but not among ART women across the transition. ART men reported generally fewer mental health symptoms than their controls. Social and child-related stressors had negative impacts on mental health changes among control couples, whereas no impact was found among ART couples.
Successful ART did not predict mental health problems during the transition to parenthood. Moreover, ART couples' mental health was remarkably resistant to social and child-related stress during the transition to parenthood.