Appraisals of Childbirth Experience and Newborn Characteristics: The Role of Hardiness and Affect


  • We gratefully acknowledge two anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments on a draft of this article.

Address correspondence to Beatrice Priel, Department of Behavioral Sciences, Ben-Gurion University, P.O. Box 653, Beer-Sheva 84105, Israel.


ABSTRACT Prior research has suggested an overlap between hardiness and negative affect in the prediction of self-reported health outcomes. A prospective study, investigating the relationships between hardiness and negative and positive affectivity in the prediction of postdelivery outcomes was conducted. Maternal appraisals of childbirth difficulty and success in coping with labor, maternal perceptions of the infant, and the amount of analgesic intake, as well as the objectively assessed difficulty of labor, were the outcome variables. Subjects were 73 pregnant women expecting their first baby. Hardiness and negative and positive trait affect were evaluated during the second trimester of pregnancy, while the dependent measures were assessed during labor and 48 hours after. Hardiness measured as an additive construct did not predict appraisals of the observed health event independent of negative affect. However, two hardiness subscales—commitment and challenge—and the interaction between challenge and control were found to predict outcomes independent of negative affectivity. The pattern of relationships between negative affect with both subjective and objective assessments of childbirth difficulty confirms previous research findings on symptom perception. Findings suggest an anxious cognitive style among nonhardy subjects and underscore the importance of the study of hardiness as an interactive construct.