Release Date: December 3, 2007
Media Contact: Stephen King, External Relations
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U of R researcher begins study on fatigue in new parents
You can generally spot new parents by the smile stretched across their face and the bags under their eyes. But does exhaustion have to be a part of the parental experience?

A new University of Regina study called “Mom & Dad Plus One” and funded by the Saskatchewan Health Research Foundation (SHRF) will take a closer look at the transition new parents make when they have a baby and what can be done to help.

University of Regina psychology professor Lynn Loutzenhiser is especially interested in gaining more information about fatigue in first-time parents, particularly new fathers.

“Anecdotally we hear moms saying things like, ‘I can’t wait until he gets home at 5 o’clock and I can give him the baby and get a break,’” she said. “While moms clearly need a break after a long day with a new baby, many of these dads have been working outside of the home all day, and are coming home to start their second shift. However, since most of the research on balancing work and family responsibilities has been focused on mothers, it is interesting for us to get a better sense of how new fathers balance these responsibilities. Researchers know very little about fathers’ experiences with infants, and this study will help remedy that.”

During the two-year study, Loutzenhiser will conduct surveys and interviews with parents to learn more about fatigue during the transition to parenthood, and factors that might be associated with it, such as health, stress, and even characteristics of their infants – temperament and sleep habits, for example. She and her research team will follow each set of new parents from the third trimester of pregnancy until the children reach the age of six months.

Loutzenhiser will conduct this research out of the University of Regina’s Child and Family Research Group in partnership with the Regina Qu’Appelle Health Region. Saskatchewan health professionals, such as public health nurses, may use the results of the study to develop programs that address the unique challenges mothers and fathers face with their first child.

“Dr. Loutzenhiser’s study is an example of the difference community partners can make when they work together,” says David Gauthier, the University of Regina’s Vice-President, Research and International. “Their combined expertise will make an important contribution to the well-being of both parents and children in the province and in turn help build a better future for the next generation.”

SHRF is currently celebrating that type of service to the community with 2007 Saskatchewan Health Research Week, which runs from December 2-8. Under the theme of “Connecting Research With Communities,” this year’s Health Research Week will showcase Saskatchewan’s health researchers and the work they do to improve health care in the province.