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Infant Behavior, Maternal Behavior



  1. Fowles, Eileen R. PhD, RNC


Purpose: To determine the effect of demonstrating the Brazelton Neonatal Behavioral Assessment Scale (NBAS) on the development of a maternal identity.


Design: Quasiexperimental design with matched groups.


Methods: As part of a larger longitudinal study examining maternal identity, pregnant women were recruited during prenatal classes or routine obstetrical visits; they then completed questionnaires assessing demographic, psychosocial, and maternal identity variables. All women were visited in the hospital after delivery. Three weeks after delivery, the women completed a question-naire packet assessing demographic, psychosocial, maternal identity, and infant variables. Demonstration of the NBAS in the hospital after delivery was included as a pilot project within the larger study. For the pilot project, 22 women who received a demonstration of the NBAS were matched on age, parity, and socioeconomic status with 22 women from the larger study who did not receive the demonstration.


Results: No significant differences between groups were noted on any prenatal or postnatal psychosocial or maternal identity variables. However, women who received a demonstration of the NBAS found their infants to be significantly more predictable than infants of women in the control group.


Clinical Implications: Demonstration of the NBAS had little effect on the development of a maternal identity in the women studied. However, the NBAS was a useful teaching tool for helping mothers anticipate their infants' responses to environmental stimuli. Further research is needed in this area.