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Israeli Study Shows Pandemic had No Impact on Mothers’ Bonding with their Babies

Dec 14, 2022

New research from Israeli psychologists shows that emotional bonds between baby and mother were unharmed due to pandemic.

Just before the start of the pandemic, the psychologists had studied the interactions between mothers and their babies and they did the same a few months later. A total of 110 mothers were involved.

They used observation methods that are internationally recognized for assessing the emotional availability both the times.

The findings

Ben Gurion University had conducted the research and lead researcher, Dr. Noa Gueron-Sela, said that their findings were undoubtedly reassuring.

The findings showed that the pandemic had had no negative impact on the emotional availability between mother and infant.

Gueron-Sela had just started the mother-baby study with Gal Doron, her PhD student in early 2000, when the global COVID-19 pandemic made its way into Israel.

Therefore, they decided to pivot their study for addressing the pandemic’s impact. They were afraid that the bonding process would take a hit because of the worry and stress that mothers were feeling and the overall upheaval in society.

They had already observed the mothers who were involved in the study for a few weeks before the pandemic actually started.

These mothers were assigned tasks that psychologists used for assessing their connection, like one where mothers had to see their babies become frustrated.

The next session

They planned the next session that was designed to be COVID-safe and involved observation via Zoom. Every mother received a box of toys at their doorstep that was used in the study.

The babies were 3.5 months old on average at the time of initial assessment and they were 12.4 months by the time the second assessment began.

Gueron-Sela said that they were expecting a decline in the emotional availability of the mothers and thought that their ability of responding to their child’s cues would be reduced.

As for children, they had expected them to not be able to interact with their mothers in the same way.

The result

However, they had not found any such results. The study concluded that there had not been any adverse impacts on the emotional availability between child and mother.

The study has been peer-reviewed and was published in the journal named Infancy.

The results said that even though there were social and physical distancing mandates, childcare centers were closed and family activities and daily routines were restricted, the infants had no problem in responding to their caregivers.

Gueron-Sela further added that it was not just kids who were able to respond well, but mothers also had no problem in being emotionally available and remained just as sensitive as they would have been if there had not been a pandemic.

She did accept that they did not have a complete picture of the emotional development of the infants because it only considered their bonding with their mother and not father.

She also added that averages are used for calculating the results and there could have been disruption in bonding in some cases, which should be addressed professionally.

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