Negative thoughts of new mothers may affect interaction with their babies

Washington D.C. [USA], Dec. 3 : New mothers take note! Repetitive and self-focused negative thoughts about your problems can affect interaction with your babies, warns a new study.

Findings were published in the journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry Their study suggested that rumination - broadly defined as having repetitive, prolonged, recurrent thoughts about one's self concerns and one's experiences - affects the interactions between a mother and baby, regardless of how low the mother might be feeling.

Researchers from University of Exeter observed separately 79 mothers in which 39 with low mood and 40 in a control group and babies aged three months to one year old.

In the study, half the mothers were encouraged to think in a repetitive and negative way about a problem that was important to them.

The other mothers were encouraged to think in a focused fashion about a problem that was important to them but that they had resolved.

They assessed the mothers' interactions with their infants before and after the rumination task. The mother-baby interactions were filmed to assess facial expressions, speech and mother's body language to see, if the behavior was sensitive, controlling and unresponsive towards the baby.

The study found that rumination causally impairs maternal sensitivity and all mothers, regardless of level of depressive symptoms, who were induced to ruminate demonstrated reduced maternal sensitivity to their infant.

Mothers induced to ruminate had further reductions in sensitivity following a stressful task with their infant.

"We hope these findings will be useful for health visitors and midwives when working with new mums, to help understand why mothers might be finding interactions with their baby more difficult and support them in building a close and responsive relationship with their baby," said lead researcher Dr Michelle Tester-Jones.

"The purpose of our study was to help identify thinking styles that might contribute to more or less sensitive parenting.

The good news is that there are strategies to help manage rumination, and our research suggests that changing rumination can reduce potentially negative interactions with baby," he added.

Source: ANI