Partner support and postpartum depressive symptoms

J Psychosom Obstet Gynaecol. 2011 Sep;32(3):135-40. doi: 10.3109/0167482X.2011.589017. Epub 2011 Jul 21.


Background: One out of eight women suffers an episode of depression following delivery. We explored the role of expectations of partner support in postpartum depressive symptoms in new mothers attending a regional public hospital in Italy.

Methods: Seventy women participated in a two-stage (third trimester and 3 months postpartum) prospective study using self-report measures. At stage 1, they completed the Support Expectations Index to measure expectations for partner support and the Dyadic Adjustment Scale to measure conflicts in marital relationship, whereas socio-demographic (i.e. maternal age and education level) and clinical variables (i.e. previous miscarriages and depression episodes) were collected from medical reports. Depressive symptoms were evaluated at stage 2 with the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale using a cut-off >9 and confirmation of marital support expectations was measured with the Expectancy Confirmation Scale. Stepwise logistic regression analysis was used to examine predictors of depressive symptoms at 3 months postpartum.

Results and discussion: As many as 55.7% (n = 39) of new mothers presented postpartum depressive symptoms, which were predicted by low expectancy confirmation concerning partner support [odds ratio (OR) 3.02; 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.25-8.10]. Therefore, clinicians should consider the possible role of partner support when treating women with postnatal depressive symptoms.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Adult
  • Depression, Postpartum / diagnosis*
  • Depression, Postpartum / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Mothers / psychology*
  • Sexual Partners / psychology*
  • Social Adjustment*
  • Social Support*
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology