Pregnancy may be an opportunity to promote effective parenting behaviors. Little is known about patient preferences regarding parenting preparation during pregnancy and the role of health care providers.
A nationally representative, cross-sectional survey was administered to parents of children 0–3 years of age. Respondents (459 noninstitutionalized U.S. adults from the GfK Knowledge Panel; response rate 54%) completed an online survey about parenting preparation. Primary outcomes were perceived importance of parenting, regret about opportunities to prepare for parenting, acceptability of parenting support from health care workers, and preferred health care setting for perinatal parenting support. Statistical analyses included descriptive statistics, χ2 analyses, and logistic regression.
A majority of respondents (88%, 95% confidence interval [CI] 83–91%) believed that parenting had an equal or greater effect on early childhood behavior than the child's personality. Overall, 69% (95% CI 63–74%) wished there were more opportunities during pregnancy to prepare for parenting, and a large majority (89%, 95% CI 85–92%) believed that it would be helpful to receive parenting information from health care providers during pregnancy with no differences across demographic groups. The preferred clinical encounters for receiving parenting education were at “a visit with my obstetrician–gynecologist/midwife” during pregnancy (58%, 53–64%) and at “a visit with my child's doctor/nurse practitioner” during 0–2 months postpartum (61%, 55–66%).
Many U.S. parents of young children express interest in receiving parenting support from health care providers perinatally. Preferences for parenting support at prenatal visits during pregnancy and at pediatric visits in the postpartum period should guide clinicians, public health, and governmental stakeholders seeking to design and evaluate parenting preparation interventions.