“Neglected moms” - The implications of emotional neglect in childhood for the transition to motherhood

Anat Talmon*, Michal Horovitz, Nitzan Shabat, Orna Shechter Haramati, Karni Ginzburg

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Background: The transition to motherhood involves many challenges that require adjustment; included among them are adapting to body changes, forging a maternal identity, and attaching to the baby. Although these tasks may not be easy for any women, those who experienced emotional neglect during childhood may find them especially difficult. Objective: The aim of the current study was to examine a model illuminating the mechanism underlying the association between childhood emotional neglect and women's adjustment during pregnancy and the postpartum period. Participants and setting: Three hundred and ninety four Israeli women participated in the study, during their pregnancy (Time 1) and two months postpartum (Time 2). Methods: Participants filled out a battery of questionnaires assessing their history of childhood emotional neglect, body experience, maternal self-efficacy, attachment to the fetus/baby, and depression. Results: Results from structural equation modeling (SEM) indicated that childhood emotional neglect was associated with depression at both Time 1 and Time 2. These associations were mediated by the body experience during pregnancy (Time 1) and motherhood (Time 2) as well as by anticipated maternal self-efficacy (Time 1) and maternal self-efficacy (Time 2). The model explained 56% of the variance of postpartum depression (Time 2). Conclusions: These findings point to the long-term implications of childhood emotional neglect for women's adjustment to the transition to motherhood. The underlying mechanism suggested by the research model is discussed.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)445-454
Number of pages10
JournalChild Abuse and Neglect
StatePublished - Feb 2019
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 Elsevier Ltd


  • Attachment
  • Body experience
  • Childhood emotional neglect
  • Maternal self-efficacy
  • Postpartum depression
  • Transition to motherhood


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