Unfolding of maternal-infant bonding amidst the COVID-19 pandemic: Social support as a risk and protective factor

N. Shiffman, H. Gluska, Shiri Margalit, Y. Mayer, R. Daher, L. Elyasyan, N. Elia, M. Sharon Weiner, H. Miremberg, M. Kovo, T. Biron-Shental, R. Gabbay-Benziv, L. Helpman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Social, familial, and physiological stressors may put maternal-infant bonding at risk. Therefore, it is plausible that the stressful conditions brought on by COVID-19 could influence maternal-infant bonding. This study aimed to elucidate the contribution of COVID-19-related experience to variance in maternal-infant bonding, beyond that of established risk factors and as moderated by social support. Methods: This longitudinal, multicenter study examined the relationship of demographic and obstetric variables, social support, postpartum depression, as well as COVID-19-related fear, exposure, and subjective difficulty with mother-infant bonding six months following birth. Participants (N = 246) were women who delivered during the pandemics' strict lockdown period and were recruited 10 weeks after a liveborn delivery and followed up six months later. Results: Relationship between fear of COVID-19 and maternal-infant bonding was moderated by social support: Amongst mothers with high levels of social support, fear of COVID-19 negatively predicted bonding. Discussion: Results indicate that social support, while overall a protective factor for mother-infant bonding, may lose its buffering effect when fear of COVID-19 is high. This relationship was maintained even when early bonding experiences such as forced separation and the risk incurred by postpartum depression were accounted for. Implications for providers are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages9
JournalDevelopment and Psychopathology
Early online date24 Apr 2024
StateE-pub ahead of print - 24 Apr 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s), 2024. Published by Cambridge University Press.


  • attachment
  • COVID-19 pandemic
  • mother-infant
  • social support

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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