The beginning of life is an intense experience for mother and baby and sets the foundation for future interactions. Researchers have theorized that maternal–infant bonding begins prenatally and continues on through the postnatal period. Researchers examined that process to determine if prenatal bonding was related to postnatal bonding and found only a modest correlation. The objective of this study was threefold: (a) Examine the relationship between a woman's perceived birth experience and maternal–infant bonding; (b) Examine the relationship between spirituality and maternal–infant bonding; (c) Examine the relationship between perceived birth experience, spirituality, and maternal–infant bonding.
This was a mixed design using quantitative and qualitative methods.
Women were recruited for an Internet survey through various childbirth websites, nurses’ associations, and perinatal listserv communications.
A total of 402 women responded to the online survey.
Sixty-seven items in three instruments: Perception of Birth Scale; Spirituality; and Maternal Attachment Inventory were to be completed and comments could be left as desired. Approximately 300 participants finished the survey completely and these responses were used in the analyses.
More than 190 participants provided extensive comments regarding their experiences. Predictive Analytical Software (PASW 18) was used to analyze data and correlations were run on the measurements of the three instruments as well as a regression analysis. The perceived birth experience had the strongest correlation to maternal–infant bonding and was found to have a stronger influence on bonding as well.
Conclusion/Implications for Nursing Practice
Since the perceived birth experience was found to have the strongest correlation to bonding, we need to examine the myriad of interventions that are currently being used. Implications for nursing practice include being more of an advocate for the laboring woman; facilitating bonding immediately after birth; and discussing need for interventions honestly and openly with the laboring woman and her partner.