Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Inez Tuck

Second Advisor

Judith Lewis

Third Advisor

Nancy Jallo

Fourth Advisor

Michelle Brenner


The beginning of life is an intense experience for both mother and baby and sets the foundation for future interactions. Researchers have theorized that maternal infant bonding begins prenatally and continues on through the postnatal period. Mṻller (1996) examined that process to determine if prenatal bonding was related to postnatal bonding and discovered that there was only a modest correlation between the two. This led to speculation as to what variables, besides prenatal bonding, could influence postnatal bonding. Klaus & Kennell (1976) noted the detrimental effects of a lack of bonding in terms of abuse and attachment disorders and emphasized the urgency of understanding the process. Thus, an examination of factors that influence the initial attachment after birth is important in order to facilitate the experience for optimal outcomes. The purpose of this study was threefold: 1. Examine the relationship between a woman’s perceived birth experience and maternal infant bonding; 2. Examine the relationship between spirituality and maternal infant bonding; 3. Examine the relationship between perceived birth experience and maternal infant bonding. Women were recruited for an internet survey through various childbirth websites, nurses’ associations, and perinatal listserv communications. A total of 402 women responded to the survey, which consisted of 67 items in three instruments: Perception of Birth Scale; Spirituality; and Maternal Attachment Inventory. Of these respondents approximately 300 finished the survey completely and were used in the analyses. Slightly more than 190 left extensive comments regarding their experiences. Predictive Analytical Software (PASW 18) was used to analyze data and correlations were run on the measurements of the three instruments as well as a regression analysis. Perceived birth experience had the strongest correlation to maternal infant bonding and was found to have a stronger influence on bonding as well.


© The Author

Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission

August 2010

Included in

Nursing Commons