Maternal insightfulness protects against the detrimental effects of postpartum stress on positive parenting among at-risk mother–infant dyads

Cecilia Martinez-Torteya, Katherine L. Rosenblum, Marjorie Beeghly, David Oppenheim, Nina Koren-Karie, Maria Muzik

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The current study evaluated whether maternal insightfulness can buffer the negative influence of postpartum stressful life events on maternal parenting behaviors. Participants were 125 mother–infant dyads (55% boys) who present a subsample of a larger longitudinal study on maternal maltreatment during childhood and its impact on peripartum maternal adjustment. Women were primarily white and middle class. At 4 months postpartum, mothers reported on the stressful life events experienced after the child’s birth and current depressive symptoms. At 6 months postpartum, maternal parenting quality was assessed using videotaped mother-infant interactions and maternal insightfulness was evaluated using the Insightfulness Assessment. Insightfulness significantly moderated the effect of postpartum stressful events on maternal parenting behaviors. Mothers who were insightful displayed high levels of positive parenting during interactions with their infant regardless of the amount of stressful life events experienced. In contrast, mothers classified as non-insightful showed less positive parenting as they experienced more stressful life events. Findings highlight the protective role of maternal insightfulness in the face of postpartum stress, and suggest that efforts to enhance insightfulness during the early postpartum period may be particularly relevant for women in high-risk contexts.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)272-286
Number of pages15
JournalAttachment and Human Development
Issue number3
StatePublished - 4 May 2018

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the National Institute of Health – Michigan Mentored Clinical Scholars Program [K12 RR017607-04]; the National Institute of Mental Health [K23 MH080147]; the Michigan Institute for Clinical and Health Research [MICHR, UL1TR000433].

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • Insightfulness
  • mother–infant interaction
  • parenting
  • sensitivity
  • stressful life events

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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