Expectations, experiences, and desires: Mothers’ perceptions of the division of caregiving and their postnatal adaptation.

First-time and experienced mothers’ prenatal expectations, postnatal experiences, and postnatal desires regarding the division of infant caregiving responsibilities with her partner were examined to explore whether postnatal desires may be a better indicator of mothers’ postnatal adaptation (self-efficacy, satisfaction, stress, depressive symptoms, and state anxiety) than prenatal expectations and postnatal experiences. Mothers (N = 132) completed a prenatal questionnaire during their third trimester and a postnatal questionnaire at 8 weeks postpartum. Women’s parental status (first-time vs. experienced) and their postnatal work status were associated with their expectations, experiences, and desires for the division of caregiving. Women whose partners were involved in the caregiving tasks reported more positive postnatal adaptation, whereas women, and particularly first-time mothers, who desired more partner involvement had poorer postnatal adaptation. The results suggest that mothers’ postnatal desires concerning the division of caregiving is important to consider in examining mothers’ postnatal adaptation. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved)