The effect of the type of hospital delivery on maternal attachment at one month postpartum
McClowry, Sandra Graham
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The emotional bond between a mother and her newborn has life-long implications for the child as well as the mother. The emotional bond is called maternal attachment. Nurses committed to optimal health and quality of life should recognize nursing's responsibility to assist mothers in developing attachment to their babies. The purpose of this study was to explore the question: Is there a difference in maternal attachment based on the type of hospital delivery the mother experienced? Attachment scores of mothers who were one month postpartum were compared according to the type of hospital delivery they experienced: traditional delivery with the husband present; traditional delivery without the husband present; traditional delivery despite the mother's request for the birthing room; and birthing room deliveries. This study was a cross-sectional exploratory mail survey. The sample population included all new mothers during two months who met the criteria for inclusion. The sample was chosen from the medical records of an urban community hospital in northern Illinois. The McClowry Maternal Attachment Questionnaire was developed for this study. Validity was determined in a number of ways, including review by three graduate faculty members, maternal-child practitioners, and a clinical psychologist. Using the same criteria as the actual study, the questionnaire was pre-tested by using the responses of 20 mothers who delivered at another facility. No further alterations were made on the test instrument, and the actual study was begun. Questionnaires were sent to the subjects' homes one month after delivery. 1 response rate of 77% was obtained for a total of 145 participants. The responses to each questionnaire were scored. Scores were compared according to delivery groups. ANOVA and a follow-up Duncan multiple range test were used to analyze the differences among groups. Mothers whose deliveries were attended by their husbands had significantly higher attachment scores than did mothers whose husbands did not attend. No other differences were found among the groups. The findings suggest that maternal attachment does not develop between the mother and baby alone, but is influenced by the father's participation and response.