The Impact of the Antenatal Class "Baby World" on the Caregiver-Infant Relationship - a Pilot Study
Casale, Laura Elizabeth
Research suggests that the relationship between caregivers and their infants has a significant effect on development and well-being across the lifespan. There is a significant body of research into psychological interventions which focus on this relationship. However, there is only limited research into the impact of antenatal interventions which aim to promote the caregiver-foetus relationship, thus preventing later difficulties in the caregiver-infant relationship. Findings so far suggest that such interventions could be effective, and recommendations have been made for further studies exploring the effect antenatal interventions on the caregiver-foetus relationship. This pilot study explored the impact of a newly developed psychoeducational intervention entitled “Baby World” on the caregiver-foetal relationship. Seventy-nine females and 26 males who were expecting their first child were recruited from an NHS midwife service in London. They were randomly allocated to experimental or control groups. All participants completed questionnaires measuring antenatal attachment, mental health and childhood experiences of caregiving at baseline. Those in the experimental group then attended the Baby World class. All participants then completed the questionnaires for a second time, and then attended the standard antenatal classes. Following attendance at these classes, participants completed the questionnaires for a third time and gave anonymous responses to qualitative questions. Statistical analyses of the quantitative data indicated that the intervention did not have an impact on antenatal attachment. Results did show that antenatal attachment increased over time, whilst anxiety decreased. A significant correlation was found between recollections of maternal caring and antenatal attachment. Qualitative analysis suggested that the intervention did have an impact on aspects of the relationship. In the qualitative responses, the majority of participants wrote that the class had been a positive experience for them, and that it had increased their confidence about being a caregiver. Many of the responses indicated that the class had positively affected their skills in reflective functioning, caregiver sensitivity and attunement, and changed their perspective on how to interact with their infant. The results add to the literature regarding the impact of antenatal interventions on the caregiver-foetus relationship. Further research is needed to explore the impact of the intervention on the relationship more closely, in particular to understand which aspects of the relationship may be affected. There are several limitations of the study, in particular the small sample size and the limited number of expectant fathers who participated. Reasons for these limitations are discussed.