SAGE Journal Articles

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Journal Article 3.1: Zarnegar, Z., Hambrick, E. P., Perry, B. D., Azen, S. P., & Peterson, C. (2016). Clinical improvements in adopted children with fetal alcohol spectrum disorders through neurodevelopmentally informed clinical intervention: A pilot study. Child Clinical Psychology, 21, 551–567.

Learning Objective: 3.2: Identify how exposure to teratogens can influence the prenatal environment.

Abstract: Research on early intervention for young children (infants and toddlers) with fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD), particularly children with comorbid maltreatment experiences, is limited. Existing research has primarily focused on structuring environments to be responsive to the needs experienced by children with FASD rather than improving their functioning. The purpose of this study is to present outcomes from an early psychosocial intervention with 10 adopted, maltreated young children diagnosed with FASD, aged 10–53 months (M = 35 months), and their adoptive parents. The potential for early, targeted interventions to improve developmental outcomes for children with prenatal alcohol exposure was examined, as well as improving the skills of and reducing stress experienced by their adoptive parents. Based on the outcomes of a neurodevelopmentally informed assessment protocol, the 10 children whose data are presented were recommended to receive a range of regulatory, somatosensory, relational, and cognitive enrichments. As part of their treatment, children and caregivers received Child–Parent Psychotherapy (CPP), and caregivers (here, adoptive parents) also received Mindful Parenting Education (MPE). Related-samples Wilcoxon signed-rank tests indicated that scores of several measures of child developmental functioning improved from pre- to post-intervention and that parents’ caregiving skills improved while their caregiving stress decreased. Reliable change analyses indicated that change observed from pre- to post-intervention was reliable. The promise of using neurodevelopmentally informed assessment strategies to sequence interventions for young children with diverse neurodevelopmental insults is discussed.

Description: This article outlines a psychosocial parenting intervention that may help children with fetal alcohol spectrum disorders.

Journal Article 3.2: Chadwick, R. J., & Foster, D. (2012). Technologies of gender and childbirth choices: Home birth, elective caesarean and white femininities in South Africa. Feminism & Psychology, 23, 317–338.

Learning Objective: 3.3: Explain the process of childbirth.

Abstract: Since the 1970s, feminist research has provided a powerful critique of biomedical models of childbirth. While this critique has been extremely important, it has to some extent led to the neglect of other forms of power. For example, there has been little research which has explored childbirth as a way of ‘doing gender’ in which normative or resistant forms of gender and femininity are (re)performed. Drawing on the Foucauldian notion of ‘technologies of power’, we argue that gender is a form of disciplinary power which shapes the choices that women make in relation to childbirth. Drawing on pre-birth interviews with 21 white, middle-class pregnant South African women who were planning on either a home birth (n = 12) or an elective caesarean section (n = 9), we show how three central technologies of white femininity shaped and regulated women’s childbirth choices. These included: a patriarchal optics of childbirth, the ‘natural childbirth’ ideal and the ‘good mother’ imperative. The article concludes that women’s childbirth choices are heavily shaped by gendered technologies of power and that the decision to have a home birth or an elective caesarean section intersects with scripts of ‘doing white femininity’ in South Africa.

Description: The article discusses childbirth choices as they relate to gender and ethnicity. Home birth choice and elective caesarean section births are discussed as regulated by white femininity in South Africa. The article reflects the application of a biopsychosocial model to the process of childbirth.

Journal Article 3.3: Saxbe, D. E. Birth of a new perspective: A call for biopsychosocial research on childbirth. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 26, 81–86.

Learning Objective: 3.3: Explain the process of childbirth.

Abstract: Childbirth is a major life event with implications for family health, but it has been understudied by psychological scientists. The biopsychosocial model, which posits that health is shaped by biological, social, psychological, and cultural processes, can describe birth. The physiology of birth involves the interplay of hormones such as cortisol and oxytocin that are known to be affected by socioemotional factors. Existing theories on pain, stress, and social support can be applied to birth. Psychologists can adapt and incorporate empirically supported treatments, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy and mindfulness-based stress reduction, into childbirth education. Although father presence at birth represents a relatively new phenomenon, research on partner support has been lacking. Birth experiences may mediate associations between prenatal stress and postpartum adjustment, suggesting a need for more integrated, longitudinal research on birth.

Description: The authors argue that psychological scientists have paid too little research attention to childbirth itself. The article outlines an integrative, biopsychosocial approach to the phenomenon.