Pictorial representation of attachment: Measuring the parent-fetus relationship in expectant mothers and fathers

H.J.A. van Bakel, A.J.B.M. Maas, C.M.J.M. Vreeswijk, A.J.J.M. Vingerhoets

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Abstract

Background
Over the past decades, attachment research has predominantly focused on the attachment relationship that infants develop with their parents or that adults had with their own parents. Far less is known about the development of feelings of attachment in parents towards their children. The present study examined a) whether a simple non-verbal (i.e., pictorial) measure of attachment (Pictorial Representation of Attachment Measure: PRAM) is a valid instrument to assess parental representations of the antenatal relationship with the fetus in expectant women and men and b) whether factors such as gender of the parent, parity, and age are systematically related to parental bonding during pregnancy.
Methods
At 26 weeks gestational age, 352 primi- or multiparous pregnant women and 268 partners from a community based sample filled in the PRAM and the M/PAAS (Maternal/Paternal Antenatal Attachment Scale, Condon, 1985/1993).
Results
Results show that the PRAM was significantly positively associated to a self-report questionnaire of antenatal attachment in both expectant mothers and fathers. Age and parity were both found significantly related to M/PAAS and PRAM scores.
Conclusions
The present findings provide support that the PRAM is as a valid, quick, and easy-to-administer instrument of parent-infant bonding. However, further research focusing on its capacity as a screening instrument (to identify parents with serious bonding problems) and its sensitivity to change (necessary for the use in evaluation of intervention studies) is needed, in order to prove its clinical value.
Keywords: Antenatal, Attachment, Mother, Father, Pregnancy, Fetus
Original languageEnglish
Article number138
JournalBMC Pregnancy and Childbirth
Volume13
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2013

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