Date of Graduation

1985

Document Type

Dissertation/Thesis

Abstract

A rapidly rising rate of Caesarean childbirth in the United States has led to concern for the effects of this mode of delivery on mother and child. The purpose of this investigation was to assess the effect of mode of delivery on infant development, mother's perceptions of their infants and mother-interaction. Seventy-eight Caesearian mothers and their healthy newborn babies were assessed two and thirty days postpartum. The sample consisted of 40 first and laterborn vaginally delivered infants, 20 firstborn, unplanned Caesearean delivered infants and 18 laterborn, elective Caesarean delivered infants. Measures included the neonatal Behavioral Assessment Scale, the Neonatal Perception Inventory, the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory, and an observation of the dyad, the MMPI Depression Scale, and the Kent Infant Development Scale. No differences were observed among groups of infants in level of infant development, pattern of mother and infant interaction, mothers' perceptions of their infants or in mothers' level of anxiety and depression during the postpartum period. A main effect of birth order was found for maternal anxiety at two days and infant development at 30 days. Firstborn mothers reported a higher level of anxiety following childbirth and rated their infants as more advanced at 30 days than mothers of laterborn infants. The absence of differences among mothers and vaginally and Caesarean delivered infants during the first postpartum month is consistent with previous research on Caesarean childbirth and highlights the importance of studying, not just mode of delivery, but factors such as social support and mother's emotional well-being.

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