Academic journal article The Spanish Journal of Psychology

Maternal Concepts and Expectations regarding a Preterm Infant

Academic journal article The Spanish Journal of Psychology

Maternal Concepts and Expectations regarding a Preterm Infant

Article excerpt

The objective of the present study was: (a) to identify the concerns, verbally expressed, of 50 mothers regarding their preterm infants (PT) and then compare their verbal expression with those of 25 mothers of full-term infants (FT); and (b) to correlate the mothers' verbal expressions with maternal and infant variables. The following instruments were used to compose and characterize the sample: Structure Clinical Interview for DSM III-R Non-Patient (SCID/NP), State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI), Beck Depression Inventory (BDI), and medical charts. Results showed that there was no difference between groups in term of mothers' expectations and conceptualizations; both groups exhibited predominantly positive expectations and concepts. In comparison with FT mothers, PT mothers verbally expressed more feelings and reactions predominantly negative or conflicting in relation to infant birth. Higher levels of maternal anxiety and depression in the PT Group were correlated with more verbal expressions about negative or conflicting emotions. In addition, lower birth weight, higher neonatal risk and longer length of stay in intensive care nursery of the infants were related with more negative or conflicting concepts by the mothers.

Keywords: maternal expectations, preterm infants

El objetivo de este estudio era: (a) identificar las preocupaciones, expresadas verbalmente, de 50 madres con respecto a sus niños prematuros (PT) y después comparar su expresión verbal con la de 25 madres de niños nacidos a término (FT); y (b) correlacionar las expresiones verbales de las madres con variables maternas e infantiles. Se emplearon los siguientes instrumentos para componer y describir la muestra: Entrevista Clínica Estructurada para DSM-III-R No-Pacientes (Structure Clinical Interview for DSM III-R Non-Patient; SCID/NP), Inventario de Ansiedad Estado-Rasgo (State-Trait Anxiety Inventory; STAI), Inventario de Depresión de Beck (Beck Depression Inventory; BDI), y registros médicos. Los resultados mostraron que no había diferencias entre los grupos en términos de las expectativas y conceptualizaciones de las madres; ambos grupos exhibieron predominantemente expectativas y conceptos positivos. En comparación con las madres FT, las madres PT expresaron verbalmente más sentimientos y reacciones predominantemente negativos o conflictivos con respecto al nacimiento del niño. Los niveles más altos de ansiedad y depresión maternales en el grupo PT correlacionaban con más expresiones verbales de emociones negativas o conflictivas. Además, el peso más bajo al nacer, mayor riesgo neonatal y una estancia más larga en la unidad de cuidados intensivos neonatales de los niños se relacionaban con mayor número de conceptos negativos o conflictivos de las madres.

Palabras clave: expectativas maternas, niños prematuros

According to developmental psychopathology, the notion of risk represents a statistical probability of occurrence of determined engagement in human development (Horowitz, 1992). The risk factors are adverse influences on development which may be of a biological, social or psychological nature, whether intrinsic to the individual, or present in the environment, or, even, in both, in a combined manner (Kopp & Kaller, 1989).

Among the possible risk factors for human development, premature birth with very low birth weight is highlighted as a biological risk factor, due to the fragility of the neonatal conditions (Linhares, 2003). However, distinct developmental patterns can be observed among children born with low birth weight, according to individual differences and in response to their environments, in relation to this adversity (Horowitz, 1992). An adequate family environment, with favorable conditions, such as parental responsibility, acceptance of the child's behavior, and availability of toys, may reduce or compensate for adverse prenatal risk factors (Kalmár & Boronkai, 1991).

This way, the adequate family environment may become a psycho-social protection mechanism for infants vulnerable due to adverse neonatal conditions, attenuating or neutralizing the negative effects of prematurity (Linhares, 2003). …

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