The impact of maternal characteristics, infant temperament and contextual factors on maternal responsiveness to infant.
Infant Behavior and Development
Copyright © 2015 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. This manuscript version is made available under the CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0 license http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/
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Postnatal maternal depressive symptoms are consistently associated with impairments in maternal attunement (i.e., maternal responsiveness and bonding). There is a growing body of literature examining the impact of maternal cognitive factors (e.g., rumination) on maternal attunement and mood. However, little research has examined the role of infant temperament and maternal social support in this relationship. This study investigated the hypothesis that rumination would mediate (1) the relationship between depressive symptoms and attunement and (2) the relationship between social support and attunement. We further predicted that infant temperament would moderate these relationships, such that rumination would demonstrate mediating effects on attunement when infant difficult temperament was high, but not low. Two hundred and three mothers completed measures on rumination, depressive symptoms, attunement, perceived social support and infant temperament. Rumination mediated the effect of postnatal maternal depressive mood on maternal self-reported responsiveness to the infant when infants were low, but not high, in negative temperament. When infants had higher negative temperament, there were direct relationships between maternal depressive symptoms, social support and maternal self-reported responsiveness to the infant. This study is limited by its cross-sectional and correlational nature and the use of self-report measures to assess a mother's awareness of her infant needs and behaviours, rather than observational measures of maternal sensitivity. These findings suggest potentially different pathways to poor maternal responsiveness than those expected and provide new evidence about the contexts in which maternal cognitive factors, such as rumination, may impact on the mother-infant relationship.
Vol. 40, August 2015, pp. 1 - 11
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