Perceptions of early relationships during the transition to motherhood: The mediating role of social support

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Abstract

Perceptions of the availability of social support were assumed to mediate the association between the future mother's perceptions of early relationships and positive postpartum outcomes. We explored the idea that pregnant women's perceptions of early caretaking relationships as optimal associate with the perceived availability of, and satisfaction with, social support, which in turn, were assumed to affect postpartum depressive symptomatology, the APGAR (i.e., rates of Appearance [color]; Pulse [heartbeat]; Grimace [reflex]; Activity [muscle tone]; and Respiration [breathing], Nelson, 1987) scores of the newborn, and the mother's perceptions of the infant. Using a longitudinal design, we enrolled 120 first-time pregnant participants, who were assessed during the third trimester of pregnancy and eight weeks postpartum. Newborns were assessed immediately after birth. Findings confirmed the expected model, controlling for levels of depressive symptomatology during pregnancy. This model is discussed in the context of system and transactional models of mother–infant interactions. ©2002 Michigan Association for Infant Mental Health.

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