Following attachment theory, a main function of being a parent is to supply a "secure base", i.e. a particular feeling of safety and trust in an attachment relationship. This necessity is also a characteristic of adult age and is evident in couple life and, in particular, during pregnancy and in the period following the birth of a child. To better understand the effects of some psychological and behavioural factors in mothers and fathers during the perinatal period, the authors studied a sample of 40 couples evaluated from the second trimester of pregnancy to the first trimester after delivery. On four occasions all the subjects were asked to fill out four questionnaires: the CES-D, the Symptom Questionnaire, the Illness Behaviour Questionnaire and a Perinatal Couple Questionnaire. Statistical analysis underlined that during pregnancy up to the puerperium fathers suffer from emotional alterations with oscillations that are correlated with the maternal suffering. The fathers whose partners have been diagnosed with an affective alteration during post-partum (maternity blues or post-partum depression) are more anxious, depressed and irritable. They tend to manifest their suffering with somatic symptoms and to worry about their health condition and paternal role. Psychological interventions in the affective troubles during pregnancy and puerperium would therefore concern not only the mother but also both parents. In at-risk situations, a psychotherapeutic aid enabling depressive and anxious symptomatology, hypochondriac worry and relational or parental difficulties to be reduced can promote a more adequate attachment relationship, not only to the child, but also to the partner.
Keywords: Parents, family, fathers, attachment, illness behavior, post-partum depression