A literature review to contrast the role of social and professional support in improving maternal and infant outcomes in pregnant and parenting women. In addition, recommendations are made for future research and policy and program development concerning support needed by pregnant and parenting women.
Data were limited to published studies. Searches of computerized databases, hand searches of journals, and backward searches from reference lists of studies were conducted. Nursing, medicine, psychology, public health, sociology, and social work literatures were searched (CINAHL, Medline, PsychLit, Social Sciences Abstracts, Social Sciences Citation, and Social Work Abstracts).
The studies focused on outcomes of social support and professional support to pregnant and parenting women. The samples of the studies included pregnant women and parenting women up to 2 years postpartum. Studies reviewed were conducted in the United States or Canada and included maternal and/or infant outcomes. All ages and races of pregnant and parenting women were considered.
Data were extracted from each study concerning the theoretical framework, variables, sample, design, measuring instruments, interventions, and outcomes.
Social support outcomes were summarized in paragraphs while a table was used to summarize professional support intervention outcomes.
Outcomes associated with specific support interventions should be clearly identified, informed by theory, and include assisting the pregnant and parenting woman to improve her social support.