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01-06-2015 | Original Paper | Uitgave 6/2015

Journal of Child and Family Studies 6/2015

Child-Rearing History and Emotional Bonding in Parents of Preterm and Full-Term Infants

Journal of Child and Family Studies > Uitgave 6/2015
Ruby A. S. Hall, Hannah N. Hoffenkamp, Anneke Tooten, Johan Braeken, Ad J. J. M. Vingerhoets, Hedwig J. A. Van Bakel


Some parents fail to develop strong emotional bonds with their newborn infants. As the quality of the parent–infant relationship contributes to the infant’s development, it is of great importance to identify protective and risk factors that facilitate or impede the development of the parent–infant bond. The present study examined both infant-related and parent-related factors. We investigated whether or not the infant’s gestational age at birth influenced the quality of the mother–infant and father–infant bond. In addition, we examined whether or not parents’ own child-rearing history predicts bonding with their newborn infant. Mothers and fathers of full-term infants (born >37 weeks of gestational age, n = 72), moderate preterm infants (born between 32 and 37 weeks of gestational age, n = 69) and very preterm infants (born <32 weeks of gestational age, n = 70) completed the Parental Bonding Instrument—assessing their own child-rearing history—and the Postpartum Bonding Questionnaire at two points in time—which examines the quality of the bond with their infant. Results reveal that mothers of preterm infants report higher feelings of bonding than mothers of full-term infants. For fathers, no differences were found between the gestational age groups. These findings are discussed in light of compensatory care theory and the supporting role of hospital staff. Furthermore, bonding with the infant was strongly influenced by parents’ perceptions of their own child-rearing history in both mothers and fathers of full-term and preterm infants. Clinicians working with parents of newborn infants should pay attention to parental recollections of their own upbringing during early screening in parents of full-term and preterm infants.

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