Pregnancy is often perceived as a time of positivity, joy, and happiness in anticipation of the birth of a child (La Marca-Ghaemmaghami & Ehlert, 2015). At the same time, pregnancy requires adaptation to physiological, social, psychological, and socioeconomic changes (La Marca-Ghaemmaghami & Ehlert, 2015). Such adjustments can evoke emotional distress for expectant women (Guardino & Schetter, 2014). Despite the stressful nature, pregnancy at the same time calls for the expectant mother to be cognizant of her thoughts, feelings, and behaviors for the well-being of the fetus (Lindgren, 2001). Prenatal attachment is a construct based on women's cognitive representations of their fetus that manifests in behaviors that reflect care and commitment (Salisbury, Law, & LaGasse, 2003). How a woman regulates her emotions during pregnancy is largely understudied, further how she regulates in order to engage in behaviors beneficial to her unborn baby are unknown. Some individuals attempt to alter their emotional experience by suppressing their expression, while others reappraise the context to alter their experienced emotion (Gross, 1998. 2003, 2015). Considering the potential impact emotional regulation strategies can have on resulting physiological, behavioral, and experiential systems, the present study sought to evaluate the role of a woman's emotion regulation strategy (cognitive reappraisal, expressive suppression) on the relationship between symptoms of anxiety and depression, and prenatal attachment. It was expected that reported anxiety and depression would be correlated significantly and negatively with prenatal attachment, maternal emotion regulation strategies would be correlated significantly with prenatal attachment, and women's emotion regulation strategy would moderate the relationships among anxiety, depression, and prenatal attachment. Participants consisted of expectant women in their second-third trimester. Bivariate correlations showed no significant correlations among women's anxiety, depression, and prenatal attachment. Further, no significant correlations were found among women's emotion regulation strategies and prenatal attachment. Significant correlations were found among women's anxiety, depression, and expressive suppression scores. The finding suggests assessment of the use of suppression as a regulation strategy during pregnancy may be of clinical usefulness.
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Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
College of Sciences
Psychology; Clinical Psychology
Length of Campus-only Access
Doctoral Dissertation (Campus-only Access)
Cunningham, Annelise, "How Is She Managing? Examination of a Woman's Emotion Regulation Strategy in the Relationship Between Anxiety, Depression, and Prenatal Attachment" (2019). Electronic Theses and Dissertations, 2004-2019. 6816.