Mother-to-infant bonding: determinants and impact on child development: Challenges for maternal health care

Elke Tichelman

    Research output: ThesisThesis fully internal (DIV)

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    The aim of this dissertation was to further explore mechanisms of mother-to-infant bonding and to evaluate associations between mother-to-infant bonding and socio-emotional child development. The results may support maternal health care providers in addressing the transition to motherhood and mother-to-infant bonding in daily practice.
    This dissertation contributed to the knowledge about mother-to-infant bonding. Our findings support the theory that mother-to-infant bonding is a process that starts during pregnancy and continues postnatally. We strengthened the evidence that mother-to-infant bonding contributes to prevention of child behavioral and emotional problems.
    According to our review of the literature, depressive symptoms are negatively associated with postnatal mother-to-infant bonding quality. We demonstrated that intrapartum synthetic oxytocin is not associated with child behavioral and emotional problems, mother-to-infant bonding and postnatal anxiety. Nevertheless, it is associated to a slightly negligible extent with postnatal depressive symptoms in the general population.
    We demonstrated that open ended questions are not used frequently to address transition to motherhood early in pregnancy. And the topics mother-to-infant bonding and support were not addressed frequently at the first prenatal booking visit. These results emphasize that maternal health care providers should ask more open questions early in pregnancy.
    We recommend maternal health care providers to consider addressing mother-to-infant bonding already early during pregnancy. However there are no appropriate prenatal interventions yet to optimize mother-to-infant bonding or for women with psychological complaints like depression.
    Original languageEnglish
    QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
    Awarding Institution
    • University of Groningen
    • Berger, Maria, Supervisor
    • Schellevis, Francois G., Supervisor, External person
    • Burger, Huibert, Co-supervisor
    Award date28-Sept-2020
    Place of Publication[Groningen]
    Print ISBNs978-94-034-2635-8
    Electronic ISBNs978-94-034-2634-1
    Publication statusPublished - 2020


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