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Psychosocial predictors of maternal emotional availability: Longitudinal analyses of the Mercy Pregnancy and Emotional Wellbeing Study (MPEWS) pregnancy cohort

MacMillan, Kelli K (2019) Psychosocial predictors of maternal emotional availability: Longitudinal analyses of the Mercy Pregnancy and Emotional Wellbeing Study (MPEWS) pregnancy cohort. Professional Doctorate thesis, Murdoch University.

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Abstract

Understanding the psychosocial predictors of the mother-infant relationship may provide important information to explain the variation in interaction quality observed between dyads. This research examined specific psychosocial predictors of maternal emotional availability (EA): maternal depression and trauma. In addition, the maternal psychosocial predictors of pacifier use during a mother-infant interaction were investigated. Data for the three empirical studies was drawn from 210 women recruited in early pregnancy until six-months postpartum within an Australian pregnancy cohort, the Mercy Pregnancy and Emotional Wellbeing Study. Women video-recorded interacting with their infants at six months postpartum were included, with the quality of their interactions assessed using the EA Scales (EAS). Depression was measured symptomatically and diagnostically at three time points from early pregnancy to six-months postpartum. Maternal trauma was specified as childhood trauma, childbirth experience and also included stressful life events. Observational data regarding pacifier use was collected by the viewing of each interaction, with the fourth translational study including a systematic review of the EA literature to facilitate integration of the EAS into clinical practice. First, results showed a small negative association between antenatal depressive symptoms and maternal EA. Second, moderate to severe childhood trauma and current stressful life events were negatively associated with maternal EA. Third, maternal EA status was associated with pacifier use during the mother-infant interaction. This dissertation highlights that beyond women with depression or trauma, there are other women experiencing reduced EA at six months postpartum. Given maternal EA could be a protective factor for both child outcomes, and the future mother-child relationship, consideration of integrating the EAS into a clinical setting should be explored.

Item Type: Thesis (Professional Doctorate)
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Psychology and Exercise Science
United Nations SDGs: Goal 3: Good Health and Well-Being
Supervisor(s): Lewis, Andrew and Galbally, Megan
URI: http://researchrepository.murdoch.edu.au/id/eprint/55385
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