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Early Hum Dev. 2000 Jul;59(1):13-25.

Does maternal prenatal attachment predict postnatal mother-infant interaction?

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Department of Clinical Sciences, Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Umeå University, S-901 85, Umeå, Sweden.


The current study examined whether maternal prenatal attachment is associated with the mother-infant relationship. One hundred pregnant women and their infants at 12 weeks participated in the study. The sample was part of the Umeâ Child and Family Development project and was randomly recruited by midwives or health visitors. The expectant women completed a self-administered questionnaire, the PAI (the Prenatal Attachment Inventory) measuring prenatal attachment towards their unborn baby. At about 12 weeks postpartum, mothers and their infants were observed and videotaped during an en face interaction. The results revealed that maternal prenatal attachment towards the unborn baby is a good predictor of the early mother-infant relationship. Mothers who were high on the PAI-factor fantasy, for example, in general showed more involvement while interacting with their babies. Mothers rated highly on PAI-factors such as interaction and affection stimulated their infants by using more proximal stimulation, while those rated highly on differentiation of self with the unborn baby used more distal stimulation. Maternal responsive behaviour was only predicted by infant attentive behaviour. This study demonstrated that maternal prenatal attachment during the third trimester of pregnancy is associated with the postnatal maternal involvement, and can serve as an important diagnostic aid in identifying those women for whom the mother-child interaction is likely to be sub-optimal.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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