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The impact of antenatal imaging on parent-foetal bonding: A systematic review and mixed research synthesis

Skelton, E., Webb, R. ORCID: 0000-0002-8862-6491, Rutherford, M. , Malamateniou, C. ORCID: 0000-0002-2352-8575 & Ayers, S. ORCID: 0000-0002-6153-2460 (2022). The impact of antenatal imaging on parent-foetal bonding: A systematic review and mixed research synthesis. Journal of Reproductive and Infant Psychology, doi: 10.1080/02646838.2022.2088710


Medical imaging in pregnancy (antenatal imaging) is routine. However, the effect of seeing fetal images on the parent–fetal relationship is not well understood, particularly for fathers or partners, or when using advanced imaging technologies. This review aimed to explore how parent experience and prenatal attachment is impacted by antenatal imaging.

Database searches were performed between September 2020 and April 2021 Inclusion criteria were English language primary research studies published since 2000, describing or reporting measures of attachment after antenatal imaging in expectant parents. The Pillar Integration Process was used for integrative synthesis.

Twenty-three studies were included. Six pillar themes were developed: 1) the scan experience begins before the scan appointment; 2) the scan as a pregnancy ritual; 3) feeling actively involved in the scan; 4) parents’ priorities for knowledge and understanding of the scan change during pregnancy; 5) the importance of the parent–sonographer partnership during scanning; and 6) scans help to create a social identity for the unborn baby.

Antenatal imaging can enhance prenatal attachment. Parents value working collaboratively with sonographers to be actively involved in the experience. Sonographers can help facilitate attachment by delivering parent-centred care tailored to parents’ emotional and knowledge needs.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: © 2022 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives License (, which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, and is not altered, transformed, or built upon in any way.
Publisher Keywords: Antenatal, attachment, bonding, experience, imaging, parents
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
R Medicine > RG Gynecology and obstetrics
R Medicine > RZ Other systems of medicine
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Midwifery & Radiography
Text - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.

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