Becoming a Mother: The Transition to Parenthood

Brennan, Jessica (2018) Becoming a Mother: The Transition to Parenthood. Doctoral thesis, University of East Anglia.

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The relationship between mother and child has been one of interest to attachment theorists who have studied this relationship following Bowlby’s (1969/1982) proposition that children are attached to their mother. They suggest that their mother is guided by a caregiving behavioural system to provide care and protection to her child. It has been proposed that this system develops throughout life, reaching a peak in its maturity during pregnancy and the transition to motherhood, however the ontology of this system has not previously been studied. Other researchers have proposed that the relationship during pregnancy is reflective of the mother being attached to her foetus. Although many researchers have studied the relationship between mother and foetus and mother and child, very few have looked at these constructs together. This thesis aims to draw together the differing methodologies to provide a better understanding of what impacts a mother’s transition to parenthood and her relationship with her child. The findings of a total of 6 studies will be discussed. First, this research found that the antenatal relationship between a mother and her foetus is best explained as a caregiving relationship rather than as an attachment relationship. Additionally, maternal relationships with partners were important factors in the women’s transition to motherhood – high relationship satisfaction and providing responsive care to partners 1 year after giving birth were significantly associated with lower parenting stress. Finally, a small longitudinal sample from the 3rd trimester of pregnancy until the children were 1 year old is presented. Overall, these results indicate that the development of the caregiving behavioural system merits further study, as it does seem to be related to antenatal relationships, which may impact infant attachment security.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Social Sciences > School of Psychology
Depositing User: Bruce Beckett
Date Deposited: 20 Jul 2018 14:58
Last Modified: 20 Jul 2018 14:58


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