British Journal of Developmental Psychology

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Volume 2 Issue 3 (September 1984), Pages 191-286

Crises in parents of prematures: An Australian study (pages 257-268)

The behaviour of 24 mothers of infants with birth weights below 1500 grams was examined relative to the four psychological ‘tasks’ which, according to Caplan et al. (1965), accompany pre‐term birth. Data gathered between birth and discharge of the infants and at ‘follow‐up’ visits permitted an investigation of the intensity of maternal experience of these tasks, of mothers' success in grappling with them and of the relationship between success in grappling and later mother‐infant relationships. Certain personal, sociological and infant variables associated with maternal behaviour were identified. Ability to cope with the crises was related to better mother‐infant relationships at one month and markedly superior ones at four months. The necessity for assisting mothers to cope with the immediate and later psychological disequilibrium is emphasized.

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