Attachment representations among substance-abusing women in transition to motherhood: implications for prenatal emotions and mother-infant interaction.Attach Hum Dev. 2016 08; 18(4):391-417.AH
We studied how attachment representations contribute to central components of transition to motherhood, prenatal emotion processing (EP) and emotional availability (EA) of mother-infant interaction, and whether there are group specific differences. Participants were 51 treatment-enrolled substance-abusing (SA) mothers and their infants and 50 non-using comparison dyads with obstetric risk. Mother's attachment representations (AAI) and EP were assessed prenatally and EA when infants were four months. Results showed that autonomous attachment only had a buffering effect on prenatal EP among comparisons. All SA mothers showed more dysfunctional EP than comparisons and, contrary to comparisons, autonomous SA mothers reported more negative cognitive appraisals and less meta-evaluation of emotions than dismissing SA mothers. Preoccupied SA mothers showed high negative cognitive appraisals, suggesting under-regulation of emotions. Attachment representations were not associated with EA in either group; rather, SA status contributed to global risk in the relationship. Surprisingly, autonomous SA mothers showed a tendency towards intrusiveness. We propose that obstetric risk among comparisons and adverse relational experiences among almost all SA mothers might override the protective role of mother's autonomous representations for dyadic interaction. We conclude that prenatal emotional turbulence and high interaction risk of all SA mothers calls for holistic treatment for the dyad.