COVID-19 related worry moderates the association between postpartum depression and mother-infant bonding

Jonathan E. Handelzalts, Ilana S. Hairston, Sigal Levy, Naomi Orkaby, Haim Krissi, Yoav Peled

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The aim of this study was to ask whether a substantial external stressor, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, affects the association between postpartum depression (PPD) and mother-infant bonding. Specifically, we aimed to determine whether worry regarding such an external threat differentially affected PPD and bonding by analyzing a longitudinal sample of postpartum women assessed before and during the pandemic. One-hundred forty women responded to online questionnaires at (T1) Pre-COVID-19: Six months postpartum (February 2018 to December 2019), and (T2) During COVID-19: Twenty-one months postpartum (April 2020 to January 2021). The strength of correlation between mother-infant bonding and PPD significantly declined from before (T1: R = 0.64, p < 0.00) to during the pandemic (T2: R = 0.44, p < 0.001; Difference = 0.20, p = 0.05). Furthermore, only PPD correlated with the worry due to the pandemic; thus the PPD-bonding association was weaker among women who were less concerned about the pandemic (F(3, 136) = 15.4, R2 = 0.25). The study suggests that emotions and cognitions related to motherhood, such as mother-infant bonding, may be more resilient to external pressures such as a pandemic than affective states such as PPD. (174 words).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)83-86
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Psychiatric Research
StatePublished - May 2022
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 Elsevier Ltd


  • Bonding
  • COVID-19
  • Depression
  • Pandemic
  • Postpartum
  • Pandemics
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Postpartum Period
  • Mother-Child Relations/psychology
  • Mothers/psychology
  • Depression, Postpartum/epidemiology
  • Female

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry


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