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Access Type

Open Access Thesis

Document Type


Degree Program


Degree Type

Master of Science (M.S.)

Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded



The present investigation examined the role of low-wage work in the lives of employed, low-income mothers across the transition to parenthood. Specifically, the current study analyzed the extent to which workplace conditions predicted the quality of mothers’ parenting at one-year postpartum, and the potential mediating role of mothers’ psychological distress. It was hypothesized that demanding work conditions would interfere with mothers’ ability to provide sensitive care for their infants via the process of increased depression and anxiety, and that supportive work conditions would mitigate the negative effects of demanding work conditions on mothers’ mental health and parenting. Partial support was found for these hypotheses. Mothers who found their post-childbirth work experiences to be more engaging and self-directed were less distressed and, in turn, more responsive when interacting with their babies. In contrast, workplace urgency—when predictive of anxiety and depression—had a deleterious effect on future parenting quality. Contrary to hypotheses, supervisor support did not moderate the negative effects of workplace demands on mothers’ distress. Results indicate that the conditions associated with low-wage employment are variable and have a meaningful effect on mothers’ mental health and capacity to engage in sensitive parenting during the transition to parenthood


First Advisor

Maureen Perry-Jenkins

Included in

Psychology Commons