Focus on Attachment
IN THIS ISSUE:
Author: Raija-Leena Punamäki-Gitai
Author title: Professor
Description: Professor Punamäki-Gitai has researched trauma impacts on child development and family mental health. She reflects on the potential harm to the mother-baby dyad in situations of war and conflict, and on the need to work with and nurture mothers’ natural resilience.
Description writer: Raija-Leena Punamäki-Gitai is Professor of Psychology at the School of Social Sciences and Humanities, University of Tampere, Finland
Author: Jane Barlow
Author title: Professor
Description: Pregnancy is an important opportunity for parents to develop a relationship with the unborn baby, and two ways of assessing this have been developed. The first focuses on the ‘intensity’ and ‘quality’ of the mother’s emotional ties to the baby (i.e. known as maternal-fetal attachment – MFA) and the second focuses on her mental images of the baby (i.e. known as representations). This paper describes these aspects of the relationship with the unborn baby in more detail alongside some of the key ways in which they can be measured, and summarises some of the findings from research about their impact on both mother-infant interaction, and the baby’s attachment in the postnatal period. The implications for practice are also described.
Description writer: Jane Barlow - Professor of Public Health in the Early Years, University of Warwick
Author: Penny Simkin
Author title: Physical Therapist, Educator, Birth Doula, Author
Description: As childbirth educators and doulas, our classes and clientele include people with unique personalities, belief systems, learning styles, and attitudes toward birth. They bring to childbirth a lifetime of experiences that have shaped them. At one end of the spectrum are those who are excited, confident and optimistic about their upcoming childbirth and life transition. At the other end are those who feel self-doubt, dread, incompetence, and fear. Why is there such a broad spectrum of attitudes toward birth and parenthood? One largely overlooked contributor is childhood trauma, specifically (for the purposes of this paper) childhood sexual abuse (CSA). CSA has been experienced by at least one woman in five and is a major negative influence on women’s self image and their perceptions of pregnancy and birth. Childbearing survivors of sexual abuse face many challenges, which are described here, along with suggestions for sensitive, respectful childbirth education and care. Our goal is to facilitate healing and confidence at this vulnerable time in women’s lives
Author: Sarah J. Schoppe-Sullivan; Anna L. Olsavsky
Author title: Professor Sarah J. Schoppe-Sullivan; Dr Anna L. Olsavsky
Description: Fathers play an important role in their young children’s development, and fathers are more likely to develop strong relationships with their children and to remain consistently involved in their children’s lives if they become actively engaged in parenting as early as possible. When mothers control childrearing and discourage fathers’ involvement, they may undermine the development of strong father-child relationships. Maternal gatekeeping includes mothers’ efforts to encourage or discourage fathers’ involvement with their children and the extent to which they exercise control over parenting. Understanding maternal gatekeeping, its consequences for father-child relationships, and the conditions under which it is most likely to occur can help practitioners promote positive, cooperative coparenting relationships between mothers and fathers, which will strengthen family relationships and children’s development.
Description writer: Professor Sarah J. Schoppe-Sullivan and Dr Anna L. Olsavsky -Department of Human Sciences, Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio, USA
Author: David Shemmings
Author title: Professor
Description: The concept of ‘disorganised attachment’ arose from the ‘Strange Situation Procedure’ designed by John Bowlby’s colleague, Mary Ainsworth, which led to the discovery of three distinctive patterns of attachment termed, ‘secure’, ‘insecure: anxious-avoidant’ and ‘insecure: anxious-ambivalent’. Some children do not fit any of these categories. This article explores possible mechanisms for their ‘disorganised’ attachment, concluding that if a child cannot find comfort, reassurance or protection from a caring adult when severely stressed, then this can lead to developmental problems later on; but if the ‘caring adult’ is the cause of the fear then this can be even more damaging
Description writer: David Shemmings, Professor of Child Protection Research, University of Kent; Visiting Professor, Royal Holloway, University of London
Author: Deborah Lewis, Hala Bawadi, Yashua Alkali Hamza, Mary Steen, Duncan Fisher
Author title: Deborah Lewis, Director; Dr Hala Bawadi; Dr Yashua Alkali Hamza; Professor Mary Steen; Duncan Fisher, International Project Manager
Description: Family inclusive maternal healthcare is when fathers and other family members are actively engaged by healthcare workers in a partnership of care for a woman during her pregnancy, during labour and childbirth and in the care of the newborn. This article provides some pointers to best practice.
Description writer: Deborah Lewis, Executive Director/Independent Midwife, Mamatoto Resource & Birth Centre, Trinidad, West Indies; Dr Hala Bawadi, Faculty of Nursing, University of Jordan, Amman; Dr Yashua Alkali Hamza, Chief Executive Officer, Childcare and Wellness Clinics – Abuja, FCT, Nigeria; Mary Steen, Professor of Midwifery, UniSA, Adelaide, South Australia; Duncan Fisher, International Project Manager and Fundraiser
Author: Kelly Walsh, Nicole Walker, Natasha Armstrong
Author title: Kelly Walsh, Head of Research and Impact; Nicole Walker, Head of Early Years; Natasha Armstrong, Director of Programmes and Policy
Description: BookTrust is the largest reading charity in the UK. It aims to inspire a love of reading in children because reading can transform lives. Through the Bookstart Programme, BookTrust works with expert partners from health, libraries and early years to deliver a ‘gifting session’ to every baby and their parent or carer to encourage a reading habit and engage them with books and reading. This includes gifting over 4 million books and resources to children and families across England, Wales and Northern Ireland. This article outlines the research behind the impact of reading, describes how families can create positive early reading experiences and offers practical tips for practitioners.
Description writer: Kelly Walsh, Head of Research and Impact, BookTrust; Nicole Walker, Head of Early Years, BookTrust; Natasha Armstrong, Director of Programmes and Policy, BookTrust
Description: This teaching activity aims to enable mothers, fathers and co-parents attending an antenatal class or preparation for parenting session to make decisions about their preferred parenting style based on accurate information about babies’ needs