The birth experience and subsequent maternal caregiving attitudes and behavior: a birth cohort study

A. F. Bell, L. H. Rubin, J. M. Davis, J. Golding, O. A. Adejumo, C. S. Carter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Optimal maternal caregiving is critical for children’s healthy development, yet quality of maternal caregiving may be influenced by a negative birth experience. We examined whether the birth experience was associated with maternal caregiving attitudes and behavior throughout the first year. We conducted secondary analysis of the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children birth cohort on perinatal data. The birth experience was assessed using self-report data on level of support in labor. Maternal caregiving variables were self-report maternal attitudes at one and eight postnatal months, and observed maternal behavior at 12 postnatal months. Data were analyzed using multivariable logistic regression models adjusting for critical covariates at one (N = 4389), eight (N = 4580), and 12 (N = 842) postnatal months. Feeling supported in labor was associated with a report of “immediately falling in love” with one’s baby after birth, surveyed at 1 month (adjusted OR 1.41 [95% CI 1.20–1.65]), and with more positive parenting scores at 8 months (adjusted OR 1.56 [95% CI 1.36–1.79]), but not with more positive observed maternal behavior at 12 months. Additional risk factors were identified. Our findings suggest that we may be able to modify the risk of poor postnatal maternal caregiving by supporting women in labor and facilitating a positive birth experience.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)613-620
Number of pages8
JournalArchives of Women's Mental Health
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 1 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Birth experience
  • Maternal attitude
  • Maternal behavior
  • Parenting
  • Systematic review

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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