Background: Perceived stress has been associated with fewer health-promoting behaviors in new primiparous mothers, but less is known about the mechanisms responsible for such effects.
Objective: The objective of this study was to examine the hypothesis that the relationship between perceived stress and health-promoting behaviors is mediated partially by a primiparous mother's sense of optimism. The transactional model of stress and coping and the model of behavioral self-regulation were used as the theoretical framework for the study.
Methods: An ex post facto cross-sectional design was used for this study. Participants consisted of 174 primiparous mothers who had given birth within the previous 12 months. Participants completed a self-reported online questionnaire consisting of the Perceived Stress Scale, the Health-Promoting Lifestyle Profile II, and the revised Life Orientation Test.
Results: Results indicated that perceived stress predicted less health-promoting behaviors in new primiparous mothers (p < .001). Importantly, this relationship was mediated partially by the optimism displayed by the mother (p < .001).
Conclusions: The findings indicated that optimism partially mediated the relationship between perceived stress and health-promoting behaviors in new primiparous mothers. The implications for psychological practice are discussed.