Postpartum depressive symptoms in the first 17 months after childbirth: the impact of an emotionally supportive partnership

Int J Public Health. 2009;54(5):333-9. doi: 10.1007/s00038-009-0056-4. Epub 2009 Jul 28.


Objectives: This study investigates the impact on different postpartum depressive trajectories (i.e., "non depressive symptoms", "stable depressive symptoms", "deterioration" and "improvement") from 5-17 months after childbirth exerted by emotional support that mothers receive from their partners and emotional support they provide to their partners.

Methods: Postpartum depressive symptoms were assessed using the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale 5 and 17 months after delivery in a sample of 293 mothers. Emotional support received from the partners was assessed among both mothers and partners.

Results: The initial level and the change in emotional support that mothers received from their partners were related to different trajectories of postpartum depressive symptoms. Mothers who were living in a partnership with low reciprocal emotional support showed a significantly higher risk of suffering from "stable depressive symptoms" than mothers who were living in a partnership with high reciprocal emotional support.

Conclusions: An increased risk of persistent depressive symptoms beyond the early postpartum period was observed in mothers with poor reciprocal emotional support in the partnership. Further research is needed for a better understanding of the mothers persistent depressive symptoms after childbirth associated with reciprocity of emotional support in the partnership.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Depression, Postpartum / diagnosis
  • Depression, Postpartum / psychology*
  • Educational Status
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Marital Status
  • Mothers / psychology*
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Social Support*
  • Switzerland