Early Postpartum Parental Preoccupation and Positive Parenting Thoughts: Relationship with Parent-Infant Interaction

Pilyoung Kim, Linda Mayes, Ruth Feldman, James F. Leckman, James E. Swain

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

65 Scopus citations

Abstract

Parenting behaviors and parent-infant emotional bonding during the early postpartum months play a critical role in infant development. However, the nature and progression of parental thoughts and their relationship with interactive behaviors have received less research. The current study investigated the trajectory of parental thoughts and behaviors among primiparous mothers (n = 18) and fathers (n = 15) and multiparous mothers (n = 13) and fathers (n = 13), which were measured at the first and third postpartum month. At the third postpartum month, the relationship between parental thoughts and parental interactive behaviors also was tested. Mothers and fathers showed high levels of preoccupations and caregiving thoughts during the first postpartum month that significantly declined by the third postpartum month. In contrast, positive thoughts about parenting and the infant increased over the same time interval. Mothers presented higher levels of preoccupations and positive thoughts than did fathers, and first-time parents reported more intense preoccupations than did experienced parents. Although maternal sensitivity was inversely related to maternal anxious thoughts, paternal sensitivity was predicted by higher levels of anxious as well as caregiving and positive thoughts.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)104-116
Number of pages13
JournalInfant Mental Health Journal
Volume34
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 2013

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