The self in motherhood: a systematised review of relational self-construal and wellbeing in mothers

Lauren Annissa Wills, Melissa Petrakis

Research output: Contribution to journalReview ArticleResearchpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: This systematised review aims to gain a deeper understanding of the role of relational self-construal on mothers’ mental health and wellbeing. Research indicates that the self is an important construct in transition to motherhood. The self-concept, or how a person views themselves, is an individual difference that impacts cognitive, behavioural and emotional responses. Method: Eight scientific databases were searched (PsycINFO, OVID Medline, SAGE, Scopus, Expanded Academic ASAP, ProQuest, Taylor & Francis and Wiley Online Library) using the terms: self-construal, relational self-construal, wellbeing, life satisfaction, self-esteem, and gender (if the terms mother or motherhood were added this eliminated all records). Results: There were 404 records retrieved and, after abstract and full paper review, 25 studies were included in this study. It was found that women are more likely to have a relational self-construal than men. Relational self-construal is not associated with life satisfaction yet is often a moderating variable for wellbeing. A relational self-construal leads to more relationship-enhancing behaviours. Social support is beneficial to those with a highly relational self-construal, especially during times of high stress. Discussion: The hours parents spend parenting has increased, with mothers spending 14 h a week caring for children and fathers seven. The expectations of modern motherhood have the potential to negatively impact maternal mental health. Developing an understanding of mothers’ experiences of ‘self as mother’ may provide insight into future mother-centred interventions. Further research into the relationship between relational self-construal and wellbeing is needed to adequately respond to the mental health needs of mothers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)72-84
Number of pages13
JournalAdvances in Mental Health
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jan 2019


  • gender
  • mental health
  • mothers
  • relational self-construal
  • Self
  • wellbeing

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