Academic journal article Scholarly Inquiry for Nursing Practice

The Effect on Bonding Behavior of Giving a Mother Her Premature Baby's Picture

Academic journal article Scholarly Inquiry for Nursing Practice

The Effect on Bonding Behavior of Giving a Mother Her Premature Baby's Picture

Article excerpt

To investigate the effect on bonding behavior of giving mothers their premature baby's picture, 40 mother-infant dyads were randomly assigned to experimental (E) and control (C) groups. The E mothers were given a picture of their baby. The C mothers did not receive pictures. Both groups had visitation rights 24 hours a day. Two bonding observation measures were obtained?pretest and posttest. Results showed that E mothers exhibited significantly more bonding behaviors on posttest measured by (a) a bonding observation checklist, and (b) a physical examination observation checklist, than the C mothers.

About 7.5% of all in-hospital births are preterm. Of these infants, 6696 are nonwhite (Binkin, Williams, Hague, & Chen, 1985; Kessel, Villar, Berendes & Nugent, 1984). Preterm infants usually require hospitalization, some up to 4 months, which creates parent-infant bonding difficulties (Crnic, Ragazin, Greenberg, Robinson, & Basham, 1983; Waters, Vaughn, & Egeland, 1980).

Research has identified the disruptive effects of parent-infant separation, not only on infant development but on the family's attachment process as well (Kennell & Klaus, 1979,1984; Klaus & Kennell, 1976; Kennell, Trause, & Klaus, 1975; Siegel, Bauman, Schaefer, Saunders, &: Ingram, 1980; Waters e al., 1980). The parent-infant bond is the wellspring for the infant's later attachments. Throughout the child's lifetime the strength and character of this attachment may influence the quality of future development and bonds to other individuals (Kennell & Klaus, 1984; Kestenbaum, 1984; Klaus and Kennell, 1982). Studies have demonstrated that circumstances that disrupt the maternal-sensitive period shordy after birth, such as premature birth or birth of an ill child, will detrimentally affect the maternal-infant bonding process (Anisfeld & Upper, 1983; Jinadu, Karamola, & Tkpatt, 1982; Klaus & Kennell, 1982; Sostch, Scanlon, & Abramson, 1982). Other studies (Lamb, 1982; Rode, Chang, Fisch, & Sroufe, 1981; Taylor, Taylor, Campbell, Maloni, & Dickey, 1979) suggest, however, that the effect of mother-infant separation soon after birth may not have as detrimental an effect as originally thought. Evidence (Grossmann, Grossmann, Huber, & Warmer, 1981; Leiderman, 1981) reveals that some of the long-term adverse effects of this early separation from the mother are "washed out" after 1 or 2 years; in fact, by age 5 to 8 the differences had disappeared between those who had early and extended contact and those who were separated from their mothers for an extended period of time.

In reviewing the pros and cons of studies testing the sensitive-period hypothesis, Myers (1984) concluded that the notion of sensitive or optimal periods is less rigid than originally thought, implying that there are times when an environmental factor will more readily produce an effect, but that the developing infant retains some plasticity and resiliency in the formation of attachment patterns. With appropriate interventions, the boundaries of a critical period can be stretched farther, or the deleterious effects can be undone.

To determine how much of the maternal attachment behavior was due to early and extended maternal-infant contact, Siegel et al. (1980) assessed 202 low-income mother-infant dyads. They found that early and extended contact accounted for 2.5% to 3% of the variance in maternal attachment behavior, whereas 10% to 22% of the variance was explained by background variables such as the mother's socioeconomic status (SES), race, housing, age, education, parity, and experience with her own mother. In view of this study Kennell and Klaus (1984) pointed out that the contribution of the background variables is not easily changed, but that some significant advantageous parental and infant behaviors are changed by extra contact and ingenious ways of encouraging mother-infant bonding. Although early and extended contact contributes less variance than might be expected, it should be encouraged and can be arranged for all parents at no additional cost. …

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