Will I Love My Second Baby as Much as My First? Prevalence and Psychosocial Correlates of Maternal-Fetal Relationship Anxiety for Second-Time Mothers
Most mothers have more than one child. Second-time mothers may worry about whether they will love the second baby as much as their first child. The current study examined mothers’ maternal-fetal relationship anxiety (MFRA) to their second baby, the prediction of mother-infant bonding (MIB) and infant-mother attachment security post-partum, and the psychosocial correlates of mothers’ MFRA during pregnancy. Mothers (N = 241, 85.9% White, 5.4% Black, 2.9% Asian/American, 3.7% Latina) and their second-born infants (55% boys) living in the Midwestern United States participated in a longitudinal investigation starting in the last trimester of pregnancy, and 1, 4, 8, and 12 months postpartum. Most women reported little to no anxiety about forming an attachment to their second baby (89.1%). MFRA predicted less maternal warmth toward the baby at 1, 4, and 8 months postpartum, but did not predict security of the infant-mother attachment at 12 months. Prenatal MFRA was also related to maternal depressive symptoms, an insecure attachment with the first child, more marital distress, and more adult attachment avoidance and ambivalence prenatally. Mothers worrying about loving a second baby as much as their first child may be experiencing other psychosocial risks that have repercussions for the developing mother-infant relationship.