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The objective of this thesis is to gain insight on precipitating factors that increase postpartum mother’s depressive symptoms, including stress and anxiety, and how attachment is influenced. Maternal-infant bonding is defined as the emotional relationship and interaction between mother and infant. Postnatal depressive symptoms typically are under-diagnosed due to a lack of education and the stigma of believing that the effects are “normal” consequences of motherhood. Those affected may not seek professional help. Unrealistic expectations about bonding with their infants can have a negative mental health impact on mothers and influence infants’ behaviors. High expectations of needing to be a perfect mother or not meeting certain goals for their child’s care can make mothers feel unaccomplished, increase stress and frustration, lead to parental burnout, and in severe cases, resentment towards their infant. Many factors impact maternal experiences in the postpartum phase, including economic stressors and marital differences, but most importantly infant behaviors. Mothers who struggle to meet their infant’s needs, such as feeding, diaper changes, or sleeping arrangements may encounter negative infant reactivity emotions, which only deepens their depression.

To investigate, primary research articles about mother-infant attachment and bonding and causes of ineffective attachment were examined. A plan for future study will include the Maternal Role Attainment Theory by Ramona Mercer. The study will use a prospective longitudinal mixed methods design. Two hundred pregnant women will be followed until one-year postpartum. Quantitative data collection will include surveys asking about mother’s anxiety on a rating scale. Qualitative data will be gathered on infants’ emotional reactivity when stressed and interventions used by mothers to console them. This research may offer insights that aids nurses in providing effective care for mothers with postpartum depression and their newborns.



Publication Date



The Scholarly and Creative Works Conference, Dominican University of California


San Rafael, CA


Postpartum Depression, Maternal-Infant Attachment and Bonding


Maternal, Child Health and Neonatal Nursing | Nursing | Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing | Women's Health

Maternal Postnatal Depressive Symptoms and Its Effects on Infant Bonding