Postpartum Depressive Symptoms as a Mediator Between Intimate Partner Violence During Pregnancy and Maternal-Infant Bonding in Japan

Soim Park, M. Claire Greene, Melissa K. Melby, Takeo Fujiwara, Pamela J. Surkan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Studies show that experiencing intimate partner violence (IPV) during pregnancy is related to poor maternal–infant bonding. However, the mechanisms underlying this relationship are unclear. This article aims to examine whether maternal postpartum depressive (PPD) symptoms mediate the association between pregnancy IPV and maternal–infant bonding, and whether the relationship differs by maternal–infant bonding subscales—lack of affection, anger/rejection. A survey was conducted among women who participated in a postpartum health check-up program in Aichi prefecture, Japan (N = 6,590) in 2012. We examined whether experiences of emotional and physical IPV were related to maternal–infant bonding and whether PPD symptoms mediated this relationship. Path analysis showed that emotional and physical IPV were associated with PPD symptoms, and PPD symptoms predicted poor bonding. The total effect of emotional IPV on poor bonding was significant, showing a marginally significant direct effect and statistically significant indirect effect. The total effect of physical IPV on poor bonding was not statistically significant. Emotional IPV was significantly associated with both lack of affection and anger/rejection bonding subscales, which were similarly mediated by PPD symptoms. Findings revealed a modest indirect association between IPV, emotional IPV in particular, and poor maternal–infant bonding, which was mediated by PPD symptoms. While prevention of IPV is the ultimate goal, the treatment of PPD symptoms among women who experience IPV during pregnancy may improve maternal–infant bonding and mitigate cross-generational effects of IPV. Identifying opportunities for detection of IPV and PPD symptoms, as well as prevention and early intervention, may improve maternal–infant bonding.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)NP10545-NP10571
JournalJournal of Interpersonal Violence
Issue number19-20
StatePublished - Oct 2021


  • Japan
  • emotional IPV
  • intimate partner violence (IPV)
  • maternal–infant bonding
  • path analysis
  • postpartum depressive (PPD) symptoms
  • pregnancy IPV

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Applied Psychology


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