Quality of life and depression following childbirth: impact of social support

Midwifery. 2011 Oct;27(5):745-9. doi: 10.1016/j.midw.2010.05.014. Epub 2010 Sep 29.


Objective: to evaluate the impact of social support on postnatal depression and health-related quality of life.

Design: prospective cohort study. Data were collected at baseline and at six weeks post discharge using a postal survey.

Setting and participants: between August and December 2008, 320 women from a large tertiary hospital were recruited following the birth of their infant.

Measurements: Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS), Maternity Social Support Scale and World Health Organization Quality of Life assessment questionnaire.

Findings: of the 320 women recruited, 222 (69.4%) returned their six-week questionnaire. Women with low social support had significantly higher scores on the EPDS than women who reported adequate support (p = 0.007). There was also a significant effect of social support on health-related quality of life. Women with low family or partner support scored lower in all domains, with the greatest mean difference in the social health domain (p = 0.000). Of those scoring >10 on the EPDS, 75.5% had sought professional help.

Conclusions and implications for practice: women with low social support are more likely to report postnatal depression and lower quality of life than well-supported women. Careful assessment of a woman's level of support following the birth, particularly from her partner and family, may provide useful information for possible interventions.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Adult
  • Attitude to Health
  • Cohort Studies
  • Depression, Postpartum / epidemiology*
  • Depression, Postpartum / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Interpersonal Relations*
  • Mothers / psychology*
  • Mothers / statistics & numerical data
  • Nursing Methodology Research
  • Patient Education as Topic
  • Postnatal Care / statistics & numerical data*
  • Pregnancy
  • Prospective Studies
  • Qualitative Research
  • Quality of Life / psychology*
  • Queensland / epidemiology
  • Self Care / statistics & numerical data
  • Social Support*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult