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Front. Psychol. | doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2019.01961

A PILOT STUDY OF THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN PREGNANCY AND AUTOIMMUNE DISEASE: EXPLORING THE MOTHER’S PSYCHOLOGICAL PROCESS

  • 1Department of Pedagogy, Psychology, Philosophy, Faculty of Humanities, University of Cagliari, Italy
  • 2Department of Prenatal Diagnosis and Fetal Therapy, Ospedale Microcitemico, Italy

Autoimmune disease mainly affects women in their reproductive years and has a significant impact on childbearing. Pregnancy can induce an improvement of the mother’s symptomatology in some diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis while exacerbating or having no effect on other autoimmune diseases as multiple sclerosis (Borchers et al., 2010).
This uncertainty can affect the process of psychological reorganization, which leads to the acquisition of a maternal identity. The quality of the mother-fetus emotional bond is considered particularly relevant for the subsequent attachment relationship and the psychological development of the infant (Ammaniti et al., 2013).
In the last trimester of pregnancy, 15 women with different autoimmune diseases were interviewed using the IRMAG-R (Ammaniti and Tambelli, 2010). They also completed a battery comprising: PAI (Della Vedova et al., 2008); MAAS (Busonera et al., 2016); DAS (Gentili et al., 2002); PBI (Scinto et al., 1999); MSPSS (Prezza and Principato, 2002); Difficulties Emotional Regulation Scale (DERS, Giromini et al., 2012); CES-D (Fava, 1983); HCR-TS (Bova et al., 2012). All interviews were audiotaped, transcribed verbatim, and analyzed by Atlas.ti.
The results show that women with autoimmune disease were ambivalent toward pregnancy, had high levels of depression, had difficulties in recognizing physical and psychological changes, and had difficulties in imagining the child. These are considered risk factors that could negatively affect the postnatal caregiving system. These results focus on the importance of early multidisciplinary interventions that can support expectant women when they show signs of relationship difficulties with their infants prior to his/her birth.

Keywords: Risk pregnancy, autoimmune disease, Prenatal attachment, Maternal representations, Qualitative and quantitative analysis

Received: 12 Jun 2019; Accepted: 09 Aug 2019.

Copyright: © 2019 Cataudella, Lampis, Agus, Casula and Monni. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Dr. Stefania Cataudella, Department of Pedagogy, Psychology, Philosophy, Faculty of Humanities, University of Cagliari, Cagliari, Italy, scataudel@unica.it