Is the Association between Postpartum Depression and Early Maternal-Infant Relationships Contextually Determined by Avoidant Coping in the Mother?

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2021 Jan 11;18(2):562. doi: 10.3390/ijerph18020562.


This study analyzes the moderating role of avoidant coping (in early pregnancy) in the relationship between postpartum depressive (PPD) symptoms and maternal perceptions about mother-baby relations and self-confidence. Participants were 116 low-risk obstetric mothers (mean age = 31.2 years, SD = 3.95, range 23-42) who received care and gave birth at a Spanish public hospital. Measurements were made at two points in time: at first trimester of pregnancy (maternal avoidance coping) and four months after childbirth (PPD and maternal perceptions). Avoidant coping was associated with the perception of the baby as irritable and unstable (p = 0.003), including irritability during lactation (p = 0.041). Interaction effects of avoidant coping and postpartum depression were observed on the perception of the baby as irritable (p = 0.031) and with easy temperament (p = 0.002). Regarding the mother's self-confidence, avoidant coping was related to a lack of security in caring for the baby (p < 0.001) and had a moderating effect between PPD and mother's self-confidence (i.e., lack of security in caring for the baby, p =0.027; general security, p = 0.007). Interaction effects showed that the use of avoidant coping in the mother exacerbated the impact of PPD on the early mother-infant relationship.

Keywords: avoidant coping; early mother-infant relationship; mother; post-partum depression; pregnant women.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Adult
  • Depression
  • Depression, Postpartum* / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Mother-Child Relations
  • Mothers*
  • Parturition
  • Postpartum Period
  • Pregnancy