Exploratory common factor analysis.
The postpartum period, or puerperium, is a transitional and potentially stressful time during which women need to face both the new tasks of the maternal role and physiological changes in their bodies. Along with these adjustments are changes in the quality of social support needed by new mothers. These changes may trigger postpartum stress, which it may make it difficult for postpartum women to function effectively in their new maternal roles. Postpartum stress may also affect maternal health adversely during the postpartum period. The ability to identify postpartum stressors early in the course of childbearing could facilitate the development of approaches to relieve postpartum stress and perhaps prevent more severe postpartum health problems. The Hung Postpartum Stress Scale was constructed over 16 years ago using a sample of Taiwanese postpartum women in a different social context. Since then, it has been used for research in Taiwan. The purpose of this study is to revise and psychometrically test the Hung Postpartum Stress Scale for use in a greater number of contexts. Using a proportional stratified quota sampling of hospitals and clinics by birth rate, 861 women were sampled from clinics and hospitals in Kaohsiung City, in southern Taiwan, thereby providing an approximately 1 to 10 ratio of items to subjects to test the construct validity, discriminant validity, and internal consistency of the revised Hung Postpartum Stress Scale. Exploratory common factor analysis was done. In contrast to earlier versions of the instrument, five factors of postpartum stress were found: “concerns about maternal role attainment,” “concerns about activity changes,” “concerns about lack of social support,” “concerns about physical appearance,” and “concerns about body function.” The generalizability of the factors across the subgroups within the population showed high to moderately high coefficients of congruence by education level, employment status, planning status of the pregnancy, and number of children. The Hung Postpartum Stress Scale’s use in practice and research is discussed.