Objective: to provide a principle-based analysis of the concept of maternal-infant bonding. Design: principle-based method of concept analysis for which the data set included 44 articles published in the last decade from Pubmed, CINAHL, and PyschINFO/PsychARTICLES. Setting: literature inclusion criteria were English language, articles published in the last decade, peer-reviewed journal articles and commentary on published work, and human populations. Measurement and findings: after a brief review of the history of maternal-infant bonding, a principle-based concept analysis was completed to examine the state of the science with regard to this concept. The concept was critically examined according to the clarity of definition (epistemological principle), applicability of the concept (pragmatic principle), consistency in use and meaning (linguistic principle), and differentiation of the concept from related concepts (logical principle). Analysis of the concept revealed: (1) Maternal-infant bonding describes maternal feelings and emotions towards her infant. Evidence that the concept encompasses behavioural or biological components was limited. (2) The concept is clearly operationalised in the affective domain. (3) Maternal-infant bonding is linguistically confused with attachment, although the boundaries between the concepts are clearly delineated. Key conclusion: despite widespread use of the concept, maternal-infant bonding is at times superficially developed and subject to confusion with related concepts. Concept clarification is warranted. A theoretical definition of the concept of maternal-infant bonding was developed to aid in the clarification, but more research is necessary to further clarify and advance the concept. Implications for practice: nurse midwives and other practitioners should use the theoretical definition of maternal-infant bonding as a preliminary guide to identification and understanding of the concept in clinical practice.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Obstetrics and Gynecology
- Maternity and Midwifery