The Relationship of Maternal-Fetal Attachment and Postpartum Depression: A Longitudinal Study

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Abstract

Aim:

To determine the relationship between maternal-fetal attachment and postpartum depression.

Methods:

This longitudinal study was done on 242 primiparous women in 2016. The data collection tools used included a socio-demographic characteristics questionnaire and Cranley's Maternal-Fetal Attachment Scale – which was completed at 32–37 weeks of pregnancy – and obstetrics information questionnaire and the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale –which was completed at 6–8 weeks after birth. A multivariate linear regression was used to estimate the extent to which maternal-fetal attachment affected postpartum depression.

Results:

The mean Maternal-Fetal Attachment score was 90.0 (SD: 10.3) from the attainable score of 23 to 115. The mean depression score was 8.0 (SD: 3.8) from the attainable score of 0 to 30. Pearson's correlation test showed a significant inverse relationship between maternal-fetal attachment and postpartum depression (r = − 0.196, p < 0.001). The multivariate linear regression model showed that postpartum depression correlated significantly with the mother's age and two dimensions of attachment including differentiation of self from fetus and attributing characteristics to the fetus.

Conclusion:

According to the findings, maternal-fetal attachment is one of the factors contributing to postpartum depression. Greater emphasis should be placed on the preparation of pregnant women for accepting their maternal role, so that the maternal-neonatal relationship can be enhanced and postpartum depression thus reduced.

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