Prenatal expectations and other psycho-social factors as risk factors of postnatal bonding disturbance

Erja Rusanen, Elina Vierikko, Tiina Kojo, Anja Riitta Lahikainen, Pirjo Pölkki, E. Juulia Paavonen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)
2 Downloads (Pure)


The mother's bond to her baby starts to develop during pregnancy, and it is related to the baby's attachment. We study how the mother's prenatal expectations of her unborn baby, the mother's adult relationships, and postnatal psycho-social factors (stress, depression, and anxiety) are related to the risk of bonding disturbance. The study comprised 1398 mothers and their unborn babies assessed both during pregnancy and when the babies were 3 months old (47.7% girls). The mother's risk of bonding disturbance was investigated using Brockington's Postpartum Bonding Questionnaire. According to the results, 71 (5.1%) of all the mothers in the study had a risk of a bonding disturbance. In a final adjusted logistic regression model, the most important risk factors were the mother's inability to form positive expectations about relationships with the baby during the third trimester of pregnancy (AOR = 7.78, p ≤.001), maternal postnatal stress (AOR = 4.95, p ≤.001) and maternal postnatal depression (AOR = 3.46, p ≤.01). The results challenge healthcare professionals to screen pregnant mothers to identify at-risk groups for post-partum bonding disturbances. Intervention programs to prevent the development of bonding disturbances, and thus their possible serious consequences for children's development, should be considered.

Original languageEnglish
JournalInfant mental health journal
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2021
Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • postnatal bonding
  • postnatal depression
  • postnatal stress
  • Postpartum Bonding Questionnaire (PBQ)
  • prenatal expectations

Publication forum classification

  • Publication forum level 1

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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