The presence of perinatal mood and anxiety disorders has typically been associated with decreases in the quality of mother–infant interactions. However, maternal anxiety symptoms during the postpartum period have been less studied than other mental health disorders like depression. In the current study, we examined associations among symptoms of maternal anxiety, maternal perceived stress, and mother–infant behavioral synchrony in the early postnatal period. Eighty-one mother–infant dyads participated in this study when the infants were 3 months old. Surveys were given to obtain demographic information and current maternal mental health symptoms, and dyads completed a 5-min free-play task to measure behavioral synchrony. Results indicated that maternal anxiety symptoms were positively associated with behavioral synchrony, but only for mothers reporting moderate levels of perceived stress. These findings highlight the differential impact of maternal postpartum mental health on behavioral synchrony and suggest that higher maternal anxiety symptoms during the postnatal period may play an adaptive role in fostering more dynamic mother–infant interactions.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
- Developmental and Educational Psychology