Transition to motherhood: A longitudinal study

Tannis Macbeth Williams, Lesley A. Joy, Lisa Travis, Andrew Gotowiec, Miriam Blum‐Steele, Leona S. Aiken, Susan Lee Painter, Sheena M. Davidson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

71 Scopus citations


A prospective longitudinal study assessed the development of the mother‐child relationship within the context of other important aspects of transition to parenthood. In the prenatal phase, 238 women who were 8 months pregnant with their first child completed a set of questionnaires. At 1 month post‐partum, 165 of these women completed a second set of questionnaires, and a subset of 86 were observed for 1 hour at home with their infants. When their child was 2 years old, 62 of the 86 mothers completed questionnaires and were observed in interaction with their toddler in the laboratory. The several hundred individual variables were reduced to internally consistent composite variables, 5 in the prenatal phase, 7 postpartum, and 14 in the toddler phase. Preliminary analyses reported in this paper assessed the structure of relationships among the composite variables within each phase (Pearson correlations) and whether there was significant prediction from one dimension to another across the phases, beyond stability in the predicted dimension (multiple regressions). Causal modeling analyses are still in progress. The results indicate that the development of maternal attachment is a gradual process and that feelings of attachment are related to a number of other measures of women's psychological well‐being. Parenting confidence was found to play a central role in adaptation to motherhood within each phase, as well as from the prenatal to postpartum and postpartum to toddler phases.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)251-265
Number of pages15
JournalInfant Mental Health Journal
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1987
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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