Predictors of parental attachment during early parenthood

J Adv Nurs. 1990 Mar;15(3):268-80. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2648.1990.tb01813.x.


Parental attachment of 121 high-risk women, 61 partners of high-risk women, 182 low-risk women, and 117 partners of low-risk women, was studied at the first week postpartum and 8 months following birth. The tests of theoretical models showed low predictive ability explaining from zero to 21% of the variance in parental attachment in the four groups over the two test periods. Empirical respecified models predicting parent-infant attachment at the first week postpartum and 8 months explained 31% and 29% of the variance among high-risk women, 69% and 45% among high-risk partners, 41% and 53% among low-risk women, and 35% and 38% among low-risk partners. Parental competence was a major predictor of parental attachment over all test periods for all four groups. Early parent-infant contact following birth was never a predictor except at 8 months when, among low-risk women, the opposite effect than that expected was observed; the later women held their infants the higher was their attachment. High-risk women scored significantly higher than low-risk women during the first week postpartum only.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Internal-External Control
  • Life Change Events
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Models, Psychological
  • Object Attachment*
  • Parent-Child Relations*
  • Parents / psychology*
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Psychological Tests / standards*
  • Risk Factors
  • Self Concept
  • Social Support
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology