Disaster exposure during pregnancy has received limited attention. This study examined the impact of the 2008 Iowa Floods on perinatal maternal depression and well-being, and the role of peritraumatic distress as a possible mechanism explaining this link. Perinatal women (N = 171) completed measures of depressive symptoms and general well-being at 5 timepoints from pregnancy to 30 months postpartum. Objectively assessed prenatal flood exposure was associated with greater depression (r = .15). Further, flood-related peritraumatic distress was uniquely associated with greater depression (r = .23), and was a key mechanism through which flood exposure led to depression. Prenatal flood exposure was also associated with general well-being (r = .18); however, a mechanism other than peritraumatic distress appears to have been responsible for the effect of flood exposure on well-being. We discuss the implications of these findings for informing etiological models and enhancing the efficacy of interventions for maternal psychopathology.
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