Adult attachment style and maternal-infant bonding: the indirect path of parenting stress
AuthorNordahl, Dag; Rognmo, Kamilla; Bohne, Agnes; Landsem, Inger Pauline; Moe, Vibeke; Wang, Catharina Elisabeth Arfwedson; Høifødt, Ragnhild Sørensen
Methods - The present study sample comprised 168 women (mean age 31.0 years, SD 4.23 years). Between weeks 31 and 41 of gestation, the anxious and avoidant adult attachment dimensions were measured with the Experiences in Close Relationships questionnaire (ECR). Between 5 and 15 weeks after birth mother-infant bonding and parenting stress were measured with the Maternal Postnatal Attachment Scale (MPAS) and the Parenting Stress Index-Parent Domain (PSI-PD), respectively.
Results - Both attachment-related avoidance and attachment-related anxiety correlated significantly and negatively with mother-infant bonding. However, a regression analysis showed that only attachment-related avoidance was a significant predictor of mother-infant bonding when controlling for demographic variables and maternal mental health history. The relationship between the adult attachment style and bonding was mediated by parenting stress. Higher scores on attachment avoidance and anxiety were related to increased stress, which was related to decreased quality of bonding. The overall parent domain and the subscale of competence in the parent-related stress dimension mediated between attachment avoidance and bonding, and the overall parent domain and the subscales of competence and role restriction mediated between attachment anxiety and bonding. There was no direct relationship between the adult attachment style and mother-infant bonding when parenting stress was included as a mediator.
Conclusions - This study illustrates that maternal adult attachment style relates to mother-infant bonding. This relationship was mediated by parenting stress. The results may have implications for the early identification of mothers at risk of having bonding difficulties.