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Maternal postpartum behaviors and mother-infant relationship during the first year of life

      Abstract

      Objective: To assess the hypothesis that maternal postpartum behaviors toward the newborn may predict the quality of the maternal-infant relationship during the first year. Design: Prospective, non-randomized, longitudinal cohort study of 174 maternal-infant dyads. Methods: A Postpartum Parenting Behavior Scale (PPBS) was formulated to measure clearly defined observed maternal behaviors toward the infant shortly after birth. The quality of the maternal-infant relationship was assessed at 6 months after birth with the Nursing Child Assessment Satellite Training (NCAST) Feeding Scale and at 12 months after birth with the NCAST Teaching Scale and Ainsworth Strange Situation. Results: The PPBS score correlated significantly with the Feeding Scale score (r =.27, P <.005) and with the Teaching Scale score (r =.23, P <.01). Mothers whose infants were later classified as securely attached in the Ainsworth Strange Situation had higher PPBS scores than mothers of infants classified as insecurely attached (mean ± SD: 5.18 ± 1.51 vs 4.63 ± 1.69, respectively, P <.05). In regression models adjusting for social and demographic factors, the PPBS remained a significant predictor of the Feeding Scale score, the Teaching Scale score, and security of attachment. Conclusions: Maternal behaviors in the immediate postpartum period may aid in predicting quality of the maternal-infant relationship during the subsequent 12 months, suggesting the potential for early identification of suboptimal parenting. (J Pediatr 2001;138:905-9)

      Abbreviations:

      NCAST (Nursing Child Assessment Satellite Training), PPBS (Postpartum Parenting Behavior Scale)
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