The mother's perspective of body knowledge and expressions as a language in mother-infant relationships

Einat Shuper Engelhard, Julia Ayana Zaides, Dita Federman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Infant care engages the body, a fact that affects both the infant's development and the mother-infant relationship. This study details the subjective experience of mothers during the postpartum period regarding the availability of their body knowledge in parenting and its effect on the mother's performance and her relationship with her baby. Using a qualitative-phenomenological methodology, we recorded the perspectives of twelve first-time mothers via semi-structured in-depth interviews as well as stimulated-recall interviews held after viewing a video recording of the mother interacting with her infant. Three themes were uncovered: 1. Situations where the mother has no access to body knowledge. 2. Situations where the mother's body conveys an emotional language and 3. The role of observation in increasing body-awareness. The study's findings reveal that attentiveness to body sensations and expressions shapes infant care, shapes the way that the mother regulates her emotions, and shapes her mental wellbeing during the postpartum period. The act of self-observation as she tends to her infant may increase her body-emotion awareness. The study discusses these findings in relation to previous studies while examining the learned clinical aspects.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101746
JournalArts in Psychotherapy
StatePublished - Feb 2021
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Elsevier Ltd


  • Body knowledge
  • Body-awareness
  • Dance movement therapy
  • Mother-infant
  • Postpartum period


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