Assessing the experience of motherhood: the Being a Mother Scale (BaM-13)

J Affect Disord. 2011 Jan;128(1-2):142-52. doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2010.06.032. Epub 2010 Jul 22.


Background: The assessment of women's experiences in the postpartum period is often limited to just her mood. In addition, many services aimed at ameliorating or preventing mood difficulties often do this by improving the woman's wider experience of motherhood, not just her mood. In exploring the literature few suitable brief self-report instruments are available to assess this wider domain of the woman's experience of motherhood for women with infants up to pre-schoolers. This project thus developed an instrument to assess this domain for this population.

Method: A pool of items was generated to reflect a woman's wider experience of motherhood than just her mood. Four studies (N = 269 women in total) were conducted with a preliminary 12-item version, and 3 studies (N = 361 women in total) used the final 13-item version of the Being a Mother scale (BaM-13).

Results: The psychometric properties of the BaM-13 are reported, including moderate-high levels of reliability and validity. Factor analysis reveals three factors: her experience of her child; her experience of herself as an adult; and her emotional closeness with her child. Normative data on a sample of Community mothers (N = 249-496) are reported for each of the 13 items, as well as the scale's receiver operating characteristics and reliable change score.

Limitation: The scale has only been validated for English-speaking mothers.

Conclusions: This self-report experience of motherhood questionnaire shows good clinical discrimination between women with different experiences. It is useful as both a clinical and research tool, and thus complements other scales that focus just on women's mood or confidence in the postpartum period.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Validation Study

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Adult
  • Affect
  • Child, Preschool
  • Emotions*
  • Factor Analysis, Statistical
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant Care*
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Maternal Behavior / psychology*
  • Mother-Child Relations*
  • Mothers / psychology*
  • Psychometrics
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Surveys and Questionnaires