The Role of Mental Health on Maternal-Fetal Attachment in Low-Income Women

Jeanne L. Alhusen, Deborah Gross, Matthew J. Hayat, Linda Rose, Phyllis Sharps

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

54 Scopus citations


Objective: To examine and describe the influence of maternal depressive symptoms on maternal-fetal attachment (MFA) in predominantly low-income women. Design: Mixed method. Setting: Three urban obstetric/gynecologic (OB/GYN) clinics serving predominantly low-income women. Participants: A convenience sample of 166 women participated in the quantitative component and a purposeful subsample of 12 women participated in the qualitative component; all women were between 24 and 28 weeks gestation at the time of data collection. Methods: Linear regression models were used to examine the influence of depressive symptoms and social support on MFA. Individual in-depth interviews were conducted among a subsample of women to explore the influence of maternal depressive symptoms on MFA. Results: Fifty-nine percent (n = 98) of participants had scores that were clinically significant for depressive symptoms. In the final model of social support and depressive symptoms regressed on MFA, social support (b = .23, 95% CI [0.09, .37], p = .002) and depressive symptoms (b = -1.02, 95% CI [-1.32, -.73], p < 0.001) were significant predictors. This multivariate linear regression model with two variables accounted for 65.2% of the total variance in overall MFA. Qualitative participants discussed the importance of social support in contributing to their mood state and MFA. Conclusions: Findings from this study highlight the importance of assessing for depressive symptoms during pregnancy given its influence on MFA. By understanding how important it was for these women to have a supportive person to experience their pregnancies with, nurses can improve the pregnancy experience for vulnerable populations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)E71-E81
JournalJOGNN - Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic, and Neonatal Nursing
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Health disparities
  • Maternal-fetal attachment
  • Mental health
  • Mixed method

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics
  • Critical Care
  • Maternity and Midwifery


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