Maternal Emotional Distress Following the Birth of a Preterm Baby: The Case of Bedouin Mothers Living in Southern Israel

Shuaa Assal-Zrike, Kyla Marks, Naama Atzaba-Poria

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Mothers of preterm infants are at higher risk for postpartum emotional distress (PPED). In this study, we investigated PPED among Bedouin mothers, an ethnic minority group living in Israel. Our aim was to understand how maternal acculturation style and birth order were related to mothers’ PPED following a premature birth. Three hundred twenty-one Bedouin mothers and their babies (preterm: n = 66; full-term: n = 255) participated in the study. Data were collected in the maternity ward and the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) of a large general hospital in Southern Israel providing medical care to all populations in the southern region. Mothers completed questionnaires on maternal postpartum depression and anxiety. Additionally, maternal acculturation style was assessed using the acculturation questionnaire and information on child birth order. Mothers of preterm infants indicated having more symptoms of PPED than mothers of full-term infants. Additionally, both maternal acculturation style as well as birth order (i.e., whether the preterm was first- or later-born) were found to act as moderators in the link between prematurity and PPED. Specifically, we found that among the preterm group, low levels of Westernized acculturation style and the birth of a preterm infant who was later-born predicted higher levels of PPED. Our findings indicate that ethnicity, acculturation, and birth order are important variables that need to be considered when studying PPED and premature birth. Results highlight the fact that mothers from an ethnic minority group who have had a premature birth are at higher risk for experiencing PPED. However, individual differences emerged when examining maternal acculturation style and birth order. Culturally—informed clinical implications are proposed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)553-566
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Cross-Cultural Psychology
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1 Jul 2021


  • Bedouin society
  • PPED
  • acculturation
  • prematurity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Cultural Studies
  • Anthropology


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