Attachment anxiety is associated with greater perceived physical pain, whereas social support is associated with lower pain perceptions. Few studies, however, have examined the joint effects of attachment and support on acute physical pain in a dyadic context. In this study, first-time expectant mothers (N = 140) and their male partners completed romantic attachment measures (prenatally) and postnatal assessments of women's pain and men's emotional support during labor and delivery. More securely attached women benefited from emotional support in terms of reduced pain, more avoidantly attached women reported greater pain when given more support, and more anxiously attached women reported greater pain, regardless of their partners' support. These results advance our understanding of which women are most vulnerable to painful childbirth.
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