Category: Transdiagnostic

Symposium

The Role of Maternal Emotion Regulation in Predicting Infant Temperament and Mother-Infant Bonding

Friday, November 17
12:00 PM - 1:30 PM
Location: Aqua 310, Level 3, Aqua Level

Keywords: Emotion Regulation | Pregnancy / Postpartum / Reproductive Issues | Women's Health
Presentation Type: Symposium

Background: Maternal mental health through pregnancy and postpartum has important implications for infant development. Perinatal depression is associated with poor mother-infant bond (Rossen et al., 2016), infant dysregulation (Field, 1998), and may have long-term effects on childhood temperament and behavior (Goodman & Gotlib, 1999). Maternal emotion regulation (ER) warrants consideration as a factor contributing to maternal depression and infant outcomes given extensive research linking ER difficulties with an array of psychological problems (Tull & Aldao, 2015). Accordingly, the present study examined prenatal ER as a predictor of infant outcomes (mother-infant bonding; difficult infant temperament) through postpartum depressive symptoms.


Method: This prospective study included 25 pregnant women (Mage = 30.92, SD = 3.09; 60.0% White, 40.0% Black) who participated in study sessions during pregnancy and at 1-month postpartum. Participants completed self-report measures of ER (Difficulties in Emotion Regulation Scale), depression (Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale [EPDS]), mother-infant bonding (Postpartum Bonding Questionnaire), and infant temperament (Parenting Stress Index-4-SF Difficult Child scale).


Results: Descriptive analyses indicated that 40.0% of women reported postpartum depressive symptoms (EPDS ≥ 10; M = 7.72; SD = 5.88). Bootstrapped mediation analyses revealed a significant indirect path from prenatal ER to infant temperament through maternal postpartum depressive symptoms (b = .13, SE = .06; 95% CI [.02, .27]). Similarly, prenatal ER significantly predicted mother-infant bonding indirectly through maternal postpartum depression (b = .08, SE = .04; 95% CI [.03, .18]). The direct effect in each model was non-significant (ps> .05).


Discussion: Results indicated that greater prenatal ER difficulties predicted increased postpartum depressive symptoms, which in turn, were associated with greater infant temperament difficulties and impaired mother-infant bonding. These findings suggest that prevention treatments during pregnancy that target ER, as well as postpartum depression intervention programs may improve infant outcomes.

Laura J. Dixon

Assistant Professor
University of Mississippi

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