Background: when a husband provides continuous support during his wife's labour, his presence is considered effective in reducing her dissatisfaction with the childbirth process. The impact of this on the postnatal well-being of a new mother, however, is not clear.
Objective: to examine the impact on postnatal support, maternal anxiety and symptoms of depression experienced by new mothers in Nepal when their husband supported them continuously during labour.
Method: the study involved 231 Nepali women, of whom 77 were supported continuously by their husbands, 75 by female friends, and 79 were not supported by any companion during childbirth. They were contacted at six to eight weeks post partum, when postpartum support questionnaires, a state-trait anxiety inventory and the Edinburgh postnatal depression scale were administered. Structural equation modelling was conducted.
Findings: observations showed that continuous support from a husband during his wife's labour was related to a greater degree of postnatal support than those who were not supported by their husband during labour (β=0.23, p<0.001). Similarly, the more the women considered they were being supported, the less likely they were to experience maternal anxiety (β=-0.52, p<0.001), which in turn was associated with a lower level of depression (β=0.43, p<0.001). These findings were consistent, even after adjustments for the effect of female support during the postnatal period.
Conclusion: the study suggests that continuous support from husbands during labour has a direct impact on the perceived postnatal support, and an indirect impact on anxiety and depression in new mothers in Nepal.
Keywords: Continuous labour support; Husbands; Maternal emotional well-being; Postnatal support.
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