First-time parents' postpartum changes in employment, childcare, and housework responsibilities

Dwenda K. Gjerdingen, Bruce A. Center

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

83 Scopus citations


Objective. To investigate postpartum changes in first-time parents' work responsibilities, and to identify predictors of parents' satisfaction with housework sharing. Methods. Two hundred and sixty one fathers and mothers (128 couples) expecting their first child completed surveys about their work responsibilities during pregnancy and at 6 months postpartum. Results. Time devoted to work responsibilities increased by 64% for mothers and 37% for fathers after childbirth. Mothers (vs. fathers) reported significantly greater increases in childcare (48.9 vs. 25.7 h/week, p < .001) and total work (35.6 vs. 23.5 h/week, p<.001), and greater decreases in employment (10.7 vs. 0.2 h/week, p<.001). Couples perceived less housework sharing and less satisfaction with work sharing after childbirth. Mothers' postpartum satisfaction with housework sharing was associated with partner satisfaction, childcare time, and less involvement in housework. Conclusions. The birth of a first child produced substantial increases in parents' workloads, and mothers assumed the bulk of responsibility for domestic work.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)103-116
Number of pages14
JournalSocial Science Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2005

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was supported by the University of Minnesota Graduate School and the American Academy of Family Physicians. The authors acknowledge Anne Marie Weber-Main, Ph.D., for her critical review of manuscript drafts and editorial assistance.

Copyright 2004 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Childcare
  • Employment
  • Housework
  • Parents
  • Postpartum
  • Work


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