Based on the prototype hypothesis of attachment, suggesting that earlier internal working models influence the development of later working models, this study investigated the relationship between pregnant women’s attachment to their caregivers in childhood, their attachment to their romantic relationships, and to their prenatal representations, that is, schemas of their relationship with their unborn child.
Intimate partner violence (IPV) in adulthood and childhood maltreatment were proposed to predict prenatal representations through their influence on the security of these internal working models. In all, 206 women were recruited from the Mid-Michigan area and interviewed during the third trimester of pregnancy. Forty-four percent of women experienced IPV during pregnancy. IPV had a direct influence on prenatal working models but was not a mediator between romantic attachment and prenatal working models. Childhood maltreatment indirectly influenced prenatal working models. The findings suggest the importance of including multiple attachment models in an intergenerational framework for understanding how IPV influences the earliest aspect of the mother–child relationship (i.e., prenatal attachment). (Publisher Abstract)