Adult attachment and birth experience: importance of a secure base and safe haven during childbirth.
OBJECTIVE: Examine connections between mothers' adult attachment and subjective birth experience in the context of parity and mode of delivery. BACKGROUND: Research has established a clear connection between adult attachment and birth experience. This study extended previous research with an in-depth self-report attachment measure examining different dimensions of mothers' attachment representations and their relation to subjective birth experience. Interactions between mode of delivery and parity were also considered. Method: Participants were 257 mothers who gave birth 4 days to 12 months prior to the study. Mothers' mean age was 30.5 years, 61% primiparas, and 26% delivered by caesarean. Participants completed an online survey with the Birth Experience Questionnaire, the Reciprocal Attachment Questionnaire, and demographic information. RESULTS: Hierarchical moderated regression analyses showed direct effects from adult attachment dimensions to mothers' subjective birth experiences, specifically perceived availability, feared loss, separation protest, angry withdrawal, and compulsive careseeking. Interactions emerged for parity and/or mode of delivery for overall subjective birth experience, perceived control, perceived social support, and satisfaction. CONCLUSION: Adult attachment representations related to subjective birth experience, indicating that attachment figures serve as secure bases and safe havens for mothers during childbirth. These results have implications for practitioners and provide direction for future research.