INCARCERATED WOMEN'S PSYCHOLOGICAL FUNCTIONING DURING PREGNANCY

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Abstract

To understand experiences of incarcerated pregnant women, 25 pregnant women in a state prison were interviewed. Responses were coded for frequency and intensity of narrative themes. Psychological distress and recall of past relationships with mothers were assessed using questionnaires. Participants reported moderate depression and high hostility and recalled their own mothers as high in control and low in warmth. Depressive symptoms were positively correlated with themes of separation, attachment, visitation, jealousy toward interim caregivers, and cognitive coping. Recalling lower levels of mother's warmth was correlated with more frequent thoughts about reunification with infants. Recalling higher levels of mother's control was correlated with greater confidence in parenting and planning for custody. Implications for mother–infant health and intervention are discussed.

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