Factors associated with negative emotional expression: A study of mothers of young infants
Barnes J., Ram B., Leach P., Altmann L., Sylva K., Malmberg LE., Stein A., Davies B., Godlieb J., Hague L., Nichols M., Triner A., Walker J.
This interview study of mothers with 3-month-old infants sought to determine factors associated with maternal negative emotional expression regarding their infants. In a cross-sectional study, 179 mothers were given a shortened version of the Five Minute Speech Sample technique, requesting that they speak for only 2 minutes about their child and their relationship. Negative comments about the infant, maternal health prior to and since the birth, and the impact of the infant on her life were coded. They also completed attitudinal questionnaires and reported on marital relationships and the infant's health and temperament. A Caesarean section, infant illness, current maternal depressive symptoms, fussy infant temperament, and lack of enjoyment of feeding were all independently associated with negative remarks. Depression, infant illness and fussy temperament were all independent predictors of negative remarks about the infant, and Caesarean section and time in Special Care Baby Unit were independent predictors of negative remarks about maternal health and well-being. This kind of open-ended enquiry could be adapted for use in routine clinical contact with mothers of new infants to identify those who may need support.