Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Cordelia Robinson

Second Advisor

Joseph C. LaVoie

Third Advisor

Shelton Hendricks


The attachment relationship that develops between parents and their infants has been the focus of extensive research. The results suggest that parent-infant attachment can be crucial to the survival and development of the infant. Research has further shown that strong feelings of affection could be easily disturbed or altered permanently if prolonged separation between parents and their newborn occurs during the immediate postpartum period (first few hours). This study investigated whether differing amounts of early postpartum contact between mothers and their normal full term infants would be reflected in maternal attitude toward the newborn infant* documented through a questionnaire administered during the first three days of the infant’s life and at six-10 weeks postpartum. Comparisons were also made between mothers that had roomed-in with their infants during the early postpartum hospitalization and mothers that had not roomed-in, multiparous and primiparous mothers, and maternal ratings of male and female infants. Relationships between early contact and breast feeding as well as postpartum depression were also examined. The subjects were 46 females and their newly delivered babies. The subjects were divided into three groups based on the amount of early extended contact they had experienced with their baby immediately after delivery. The data analysis indicated that rooming-in and sex of the infant influenced the mothers choice to breast feed. In the early postpartum period (1-3 postpartum days) the opportunity to room-in increased the chance that a mother would breast feed, however by six-10 weeks postpartum rooming-in no longer influenced breast feeding. At follow-up significantly more mothers of females were breast feeding than mothers of males. Significant differences were not found between rooming-in and non rooming-in subjects on any other questionnaire items at one-three days postpartum or at follow-up. No differences were found between the extra contact, intermediate contact, and no contact subjects in the initial period or at followup on the issue of breast feeding. The results did not replicate the Hittelman et al. findings on the questionnaire items of infant irritability, cuteness, prettiness, cuddliness and length of time spent sleeping. At follow-up contact was shown to influence the mother's perceptions of her infant's cuddliness and difficulty feeding. Parity did not influence maternal ratings of infants initially or at follow-up. Based on the Beck Depression Inventory the contact and no contact mothers did not differ in the number that were mildly or moderately depressed at follow-up. The supportive companionship of a friend or relative during labor and/or deliver was investigated as a possible intervening variable to explain the obtained results. The investigation yielded findings with important implications for future research on maternal attitude

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Psychology Commons