Ιn this study we aim to examine and integrate current literature and research on attachment theory and its expression on the specific field of obstetrics, the perinatal period. In medical settings in general, and in the field of obstetrics in specific, which is the clinical domain of the perinatal period, obstetricians, psychiatrists and psychologists frequently come across antenatal and postnatal concerns, psychological issues as well as psychiatric symptomatology stemming from closer observation of the women’s difficulties or reported by women themselves. To our theoretical understanding, in order to better comprehend these psychosocial concerns and deliver timely and more effective personalized interventions to women in need, it is of paramount importance to thoroughly examine the perspective proposed by attachment theory, as it was first developed by child psychiatrist-psychoanalyst John Bowlby and the newest theoretical developments on the field that followed. Subtypes of attachment style are examined regarding their imprint on the benefits, as well as the difficulties and risks they place on women during each perinatal stage. “Insecurity” in attachment and significant relationships appears to render women more vulnerable in relation to psychopathology, according to the literature reviewed. As far as the psychopathological symptoms and disorders related to the perinatal period and their connection to attachment are concerned, the main disorders and symptomatology discussed in the literature appear to be perinatal depression, postpartum depression, perinatal anxiety and posttraumatic stress symptoms related to pregnancy and labor. At the same time, “security” attachment-wise, tangibly observed in couples with strong intramarital support, appears to offer a protective barrier against adversities by enabling securely attached women to remain calmer and make better use of their emotional and social resources throughout the challenging perinatal phase. Consequently, mothers-to-be become more eligible to overcome perinatal difficulties by the use of patterns of behavior that promote their well-being. Through the in-depth review of the current literature on attachment theory available and the tools of knowledge it equips us with, we attempted to assemble the real challenges and needs deriving from the demands that pregnancy, labor and the postpartum place on new mothers, as well as the way close relationships become affected by or, correspondingly, can be positively used in order to protect and shield women and their families from acknowledged stressful perinatal phases.
Key words: Attachment theory, perinatal period, pregnancy, psychological adjustment.
Chr. Papapetrou, K. Panoulis, I. Mourouzis, A. Kouzoupis (page 257)