Modification and preliminary use of the five-minute speech sample in the postpartum: associations with postnatal depression and posttraumatic stress

Arch Womens Ment Health. 2014 Oct;17(5):389-402. doi: 10.1007/s00737-014-0414-y. Epub 2014 Jan 31.


Little is known about what constitutes key components of partner support during the childbirth experience. This study modified the five minute speech sample, a measure of expressed emotion (EE), for use with new parents in the immediate postpartum. A coding framework was developed to rate the speech samples on dimensions of couple support. Associations were explored between these codes and subsequent symptoms of postnatal depression and posttraumatic stress. 372 couples were recruited in the early postpartum and individually provided short speech samples. Posttraumatic stress and postnatal depression symptoms were assessed via questionnaire measures at six and thirteen weeks. Two hundred and twelve couples completed all time-points. Key elements of supportive interactions were identified and reliably categorised. Mothers' posttraumatic stress was associated with criticisms of the partner during childbirth, general relationship criticisms and men's perception of helplessness. Postnatal depression was associated with absence of partner empathy and any positive comments regarding the partner's support. The content of new parents' descriptions of labour and childbirth, their partner during labour and birth and their relationship within the immediate postpartum may have significant implications for later psychological functioning. Interventions to enhance specific supportive elements between couples during the antenatal period merit development and evaluation.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Depression, Postpartum / psychology*
  • Expressed Emotion*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Mothers / psychology*
  • Object Attachment
  • Parents
  • Parturition / psychology
  • Postpartum Period
  • Pregnancy
  • Social Support
  • Spouses / psychology*
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / diagnosis
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / epidemiology*
  • Stress, Psychological
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult