Delivery Pain and the Development of Mother—Infant Interaction


  • Sari Goldstein Ferber,

    Corresponding author
    1. Neurobehavioral Studies Unit, Department of Nursing Faculty of Social Welfare and Health Studies University of Haifa, Israel
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  • Ruth Feldman

    1. Department of Psychology and the Gonda Center for Brain Studies Bar-Ilan University, Ramat-Gan, Israel, and Child Study Center Yale University
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Neurobehavioral Studies Unit, Director, Department of Nursing, Faculty of Social Welfare and Health Studies, University of Haifa, Mount Carmel, Haifa 31905, Israel. E-mail:


This study examined delivery pain as a possible risk factor for the development of mother-infant interaction. Eighty-one mothers completed the Pain Catastrophizing Scale, the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory, and the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale. A retrospective evaluation of labor pain was performed using the Visual Analog Scale at 2 days postpartum. Six weeks after birth the mothers were visited at home, completed measures of anxiety and depression, and were observed during a free play session with the infant. The mother's tendency to catastrophize pain predicted lower levels of mother-infant reciprocity at 6 weeks, controlling for maternal age, education, parity, epidural analgesia, pain perception, anxiety, and depression. Trait anxiety was related to lower maternal sensitivity. The mother's tendency to catastrophize pain was discussed in relation to the personality trait of exaggerated emotional perception of pain and its potential interference with the formation of the mother-infant relationship.