New Mothers Speak Out Report (2008)

Childbirth Connection's landmark Listening to Mothers I survey (2002) was the first time that women in the United States were polled at the national level about their maternity experiences. Listening to Mothers II, a national survey of women who gave birth in U.S. hospitals in 2005, continued to break new ground by documenting many core items measured in the first survey, exploring earlier topics in greater depth and including some new and timely topics. We recontacted mothers in mid-2006, six months after they participated in Listening to Mothers II, and most also participated in a follow-up survey that focused on their postpartum experiences. The New Mothers Speak Out (PDF) report presents postpartum results from both surveys and gives a ground-breaking view of experiences of mothers with young children in the United States at this time. The surveys were conducted by Harris Interactive and carried out in partnership with Lamaze International.

New Mothers Speak Out reports that life is challenging for many women at this time, who
  • experienced new physical and emotional problems following technology-intensive births with high rates of surgery and other interventions
  • struggled to get exercise and rest, eat a healthy diet and manage stress
  • did not return to their pre-pregnancy weight
  • got limited support from husbands/partners and others
  • were unable to start or continue breastfeeding as they wanted
  • wanted but did not have the maternity benefits that women in other affluent countries take for granted
  • returned too quickly to employment due to financial pressure.

Report highlights include:
  • Extent to which mothers experienced 26 health conditions as a new problem in the first two months after birth, and extent to which the problems persisted to six months or more
  • Net weight gain above mothers' weight just before pregnancy over the first 18 months after birth
  • Results of two validated postpartum depression screening tools
  • First national data about post-traumatic stress with reference to women's childbirth experience, using a validated screening tool
  • Breastfeeding patterns and whether mothers achieved their goals for exclusive breastfeeding and for duration of breastfeeding
  • Baby co-sleeping with mother or others in first six months
  • How women and their husbands or partners shared child care
  • How women rated the support they received from their husbands or partners and from others
  • Extent to which women who were employed in pregnancy received paid maternity leave benefits versus their ideal length of paid maternity leave
  • Patterns of staying home with baby and transitioning to employment over the first 18 months after birth
  • Whether employed women were able to to stay home with their babies as long as they wanted
  • Challenges in the transition to employment after birth.
The report also includes dozens of comments from the mothers themselves about these topics.

The Quick Links box, above, provides access to the New Mothers Speak Out (PDF) report without charge, along with related documents. You can also get Quick Facts (PDF) from the report, overviews of the methodology for the Listening to Mother II and Listening to Mothers II Postpartum surveys, data files from the Listening to Mother II and Listening to Mothers II Postpartum surveys, questionnaires used for both surveys, a comparison of the survey populations to childbearing women nationally, and the report press release (PDF).

The Listening to Mothers II National Advisory Council provided guidance on the development, implementation and reporting of both Listening to Mothers II surveys. Council members and the organizations they represented at the time of their participation are listed here.

With the release of the New Mothers Speak Out report, the PDF file of the Listening to Mothers II report (PDF) is now available without charge.
Most recent page update: 5/16/2013

© 2016 National Partnership for Women & Families. All rights reserved.

Founded in 1918, Childbirth Connection has joined forces with and become a core program of the National Partnership for Women & Families. Together, these two women's health powerhouses are transforming maternity care in the United States.
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