Mother-to-Infant Bonding in Women with Postpartum Psychosis and Severe Postpartum Depression: A Clinical Cohort Study

J Clin Med. 2020 Jul 19;9(7):2291. doi: 10.3390/jcm9072291.


Mother-to-infant bonding is important for long-term child development. The aim of this study was to investigate bonding in women admitted to a Mother and Baby Unit with postpartum depression (PD, n = 64) and postpartum psychosis (PP, n = 91). Participants completed the Postpartum Bonding Questionnaire (PBQ), the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS) and the Young Mania Rating Scale (YMRS) weekly during admission. At admission, 57.1% of women with PD had impaired bonding, compared to only 17.6% of women with PP (p-value < 0.001). At discharge, only 18.2% of women with PD and 5.9% of women with PP still experienced impaired bonding (p-value = 0.02). There was a strong association between decrease of depressive and manic symptoms and improved bonding over an eight-week admission period. In a small group of women (5.7%) impaired bonding persisted despite being in remission of their psychiatric disorder. The results from our study show that impaired bonding is a more present and evidently severe problem in postpartum depression but not so much in postpartum psychosis. Treatment of depressive symptoms will improve bonding in almost all women, but clinicians should assess if impaired bonding is still present after remission because for a small group special care and treatment focused on bonding might be required.

Keywords: attachment; mania; mother baby unit; mother-to-infant bonding; postnatal; postpartum depression; postpartum psychosis.