Stefanie Powers, Editor
Parent–child relationships are a cornerstone of healthy child development. During pregnancy, expectant parents are already developing an emotional connection to their child and beginning their parenting journey. Expectant parents begin to create an image of what their child might be like, as well as what kind of parent they want to be. It is often a time in which parents-to-be reevaluate their own childhood experiences and come to a new understanding of their own development and relationships. Research on prenatal attachment suggests that pregnancy is an ideal time to support new parents in creating strong, positive, and nurturing relationships as they grow their families. The short- and long-term beneﬁts of strong attachment in the prenatal period can be found in children’s cognition, emotional development, and social interactions.
The articles in this issue of the Journal explore a variety of programs, approaches, and research initiatives pertaining to prenatal attachment and parental support. Research shows that parents-to-be beneﬁt from the opportunity to reﬂect on their early experiences and connect those to current relationships and future ideals. Whether parents have had positive or adverse experiences, reﬂecting on and sharing those experiences provides the opportunity to build hope and optimism for the future.
Moreover, when mental health issues, such as depression, are addressed during pregnancy, children and families are better equipped to manage the stressors of childbirth and the postpartum period. There has been an increased awareness about postpartum depression in both research and practice, but depression during pregnancy is equally as prevalent and deleterious. Maternal stress and trauma have a direct impact on the developing fetus, and those negative impacts can have long-lasting developmental consequences.
The good news is that pregnancy may provide a unique opportunity for intervention due to the physical and emotional upheaval it brings—women are often more involved in the health care system for prenatal care, and parents are often receptive to support as they negotiate the signiﬁcant life changes and challenges that accompany the anticipation of new parenthood. Much work remains to be done to remove the barriers to access mental health services and family support during pregnancy, but much is to be gained by supporting parents-to-be as early as possible in giving their children the best start in life.
Stefanie Powers, Editor
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