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23-02-2018 | ORIGINAL PAPER | Uitgave 5/2018

Mindfulness 5/2018

Mindfulness Moderates Depression and Quality of Prenatal Attachment in Expectant Parents

Mindfulness > Uitgave 5/2018
Laurel M. Hicks, Carolyn J. Dayton, Suzanne Brown, Maria Muzik, Hasti Raveau


The quality of the prenatal caregiving bond with the unborn baby contributes to later parenting and healthy infant behavior and development. Previous research indicates that maternal antenatal depression can disrupt bonding with the fetus and increases risks such as prematurity and low birthweight; less is known about the effects of paternal depression on prenatal bonding. Research suggests that mindfulness may ameliorate depression symptoms in adults. This study hypothesized that dispositional mindfulness would moderate the influence of parental depression symptoms during pregnancy on the quality of prenatal bonding in a sample of expectant mothers and fathers. Self-report measures of dispositional mindfulness, depression symptoms, and quality of prenatal bonding were administered to 82 expectant parents in a metropolitan Midwest city. Higher levels of mindfulness were negatively associated with depression symptoms and positively associated with quality of prenatal bonding. Mindfulness moderated the relationship between depression symptomology and quality of attachment, such that for parents with low and average mindfulness, depression symptoms were significantly and inversely related to quality of bonding; for parents with higher depression symptom levels, mindfulness did not moderate quality of bonding. These findings suggest that trait mindfulness may promote a stronger bond during pregnancy between a parent and the unborn child. Data presented highlight the potential importance of developing higher levels of mindfulness especially in parents at risk for depression or poor prenatal bonding.

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