Mothers and fathers of premature babies can react differently (Italy)

premature baby

A small Italian study has found greater levels of stress among mothers of premature babies than among fathers. Mothers are more distressed by the alteration in their own role and by the appearance of their baby. Meanwhile, fathers in this study reported greater feelings of anger and fear in the context of bonding with their baby.

The study found that both mothers and fathers of premature babies are more unhappy than parents of full-term babies – they are more tense, more angry, more fatigued.

These appear normal reactions to the condition of the baby, the disruption in the transition to parenthood, the separation from the baby, the sense of powerlessness and, often, the illness of the mother.

21 mothers and 19 fathers of premature babies were given questionnaires shortly after the birth and this data was compared with data from 20 mothers and 20 fathers of full-term babies.

The researchers conclude that a “family centred intervention is necessary” in neonatal intensive care units.


Ionio C, Colombo C, Brazzoduro V, Mascheroni E, Confalonieri E, Castoldi F & Listab G (2016), Mothers and Fathers in NICU: The Impact of Preterm Birth on Parental Distress, European Journal of Psychology 12

Photo: Joshua Smith. Creative Commons.