Early contact, social support, and mother-infant bonding

Pediatrics. 1983 Jul;72(1):79-83.


A study was designed to explore further the hypothesis that a period of close contact between mother and infant immediately after birth facilitates the establishment of a close bond. The study investigated whether the effects of extra contact interact with other variables present in the labor and delivery situation and with the extent of social support available to the mother. Two sets of procedures for the immediate postpartum period were established and mothers were randomly assigned to one of these conditions. Twenty-nine mothers experienced extracontact procedures in which the baby was placed on the mother's abdomen for 1 hour. Thirty mothers received routine care procedures in which the baby was shown to the mother and then taken to the nursery. Observations of maternal behavior during a feeding were made two days after birth by an observer blind to the randomization status of the mother. The mothers who received extra contact exhibited significantly more affectionate behavior toward their infants than did the mothers who received routine care. The extracontact treatment produced more affectionate behaviors in the mothers who had less social support than in those who had more social support. The extra contact was equally effective for multiparous and primiparous mothers. Mothers of female infants exhibited more affectionate behavior to their infants regardless of which postpartum procedures the mothers had experienced.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn*
  • Male
  • Maternal Behavior
  • Mother-Child Relations*
  • Object Attachment*
  • Postpartum Period
  • Pregnancy
  • Social Environment*
  • Social Support*
  • Time Factors