Off-campus UMass Amherst users: To download dissertations, please use the following link to log into our proxy server with your UMass Amherst user name and password.

Non-UMass Amherst users, please click the view more button below to purchase a copy of this dissertation from Proquest.

(Some titles may also be available free of charge in our Open Access Dissertation Collection, so please check there first.)

Neonatal behavior and maternal representations over the first month postpartum: A short-term longitudinal study with Puerto Rican infants and their mothers

Julio Carlos Gonzalez Martinez, University of Massachusetts Amherst


This short-term longitudinal study investigated changes in newborn infant behavior over the first month of life and changes in mothers' mental representations of their infants and of themselves as parents, during the first month postpartum. There is evidence to suggest that maternal representations and newborn infants' behavior play an important role in the evolving infant-mother relationship, and that a newborn infants' developmental progress is dependent upon the quality of that relationship. While there is some research on neonatal behavioral development in Puerto Rican infants, there are no data on the development of maternal representations in Puerto Rican mothers. The study's sample consisted of 20 newborn infants and their mothers. Infants were examined on the Clinical Neonatal Behavioral Assessment Scale (CLNBAS)(Nugent, 2001), during the first 48 hours of life and at one month postpartum. Mothers' representations were examined using the Maternal Representation Questionnaire (MRQ)(Stern & Stern-Brushwieler, 1999). This is the first study to use the CLNBAS and the MRQ for data collection during the first month. Results showed that newborn infant behavioral patterns of Puerto Rican infants changed in a positive direction during the first month postpartum. More specifically, significant positive developmental changes in the areas of autonomic, motor, and social interactions were found, while there were no changes in state organization, as measured by the CLNBAS. Results also revealed that mental representations of Puerto Rican mothers were positive and stable during the first month postpartum. Puerto Rican mothers' mental representations during the first month barely changed, were very positive, and also consistent with the positive newborn developmental changes as assessed by the CLNBAS during the first month of their infant's life. Mothers' knowledge of their infants' capacities increased over the course of the first month and they felt they became more effective and comfortable in their role as new mothers. Mothers also reported feeling well supported by family and friends during their transition to motherhood. In summary, this study contributes to the understanding of newborn behavioral changes and maternal representations early in the development of the mother-infant relationship in the context of Puerto Rican families.

Subject Area

Preschool education|Developmental psychology

Recommended Citation

Gonzalez Martinez, Julio Carlos, "Neonatal behavior and maternal representations over the first month postpartum: A short-term longitudinal study with Puerto Rican infants and their mothers" (2002). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI3068559.