Purpose: To explore maternal responsiveness in the first 2 to 4 months after delivery and to evaluate potential predictors of maternal responsiveness, including infant feeding, maternal characteristics, and demographic factors such as age, socioeconomic status, and educational level.
Design and Methods: A cross-sectional survey design was used to assess the variables of maternal responsiveness, feeding patterns, and maternal characteristics in a convenience sample of 177 mothers in the first 2 to 4 months after delivery. The 60-item self-report instrument included scales to measure maternal responsiveness, self-esteem, and satisfaction with life as well as infant feeding questions and sociodemographic items. An online data-collection strategy was used, resulting in participants from 41 U.S. states.
Findings: Multiple regression analysis showed that satisfaction with life, self-esteem, and number of children, but not breastfeeding, explained a significant portion of the variance in self-reported maternal responsiveness scores. In this analysis, sociodemographic variables such as age, education, income, and work status showed little or no relationship to maternal responsiveness scores.
Conclusions: This study provides additional information about patterns of maternal behavior in the transition to motherhood and some of the variables that influence that transition. Satisfaction with life was a new predictor of maternal responsiveness. However, with only 15% of the variance explained by the predictors in this study, a large portion of the variance in maternal responsiveness remains unexplained. Further research in this area is needed.