The potential beneficial effects of physical activity during pregnancy on postpartum depressive symptoms (PPD) remain inconclusive. Using data from two prospective French birth cohorts, we aimed to examine the relationship between domain-specific physical activity (including leisure-time sedentary behavior) in pregnancy and the occurrence of PPD. Participants of the ELFE cohort (n = 15,538) completed the Pregnancy Physical Activity Questionnaire (PPAQ), which assesses the following physical activity/sedentary behavior domains: household/caregiving, occupational, sports/exercise, transportation and leisure-time sedentary behavior during the third pregnancy trimester. In the EDEN cohort (n = 1745) women completed the Baecke Questionnaire (BQ) measuring occupational, sports/exercise, and leisure-time activity during the first trimester of pregnancy. Depressive symptoms in the first postpartum year were measured using the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale in both cohorts. Associations of physical activity/sedentary behavior with PPD symptoms were determined by logistic regression analysis, with adjustment on potential confounding factors. In the adjusted models, higher levels of household/caregiving activities (OR = 1.10 (95% CI 1.01-1.19)) and leisure-time sedentary behavior (OR = 1.16 (95% CI 1.06-1.23)), in the third pregnancy trimester were associated with an increased odds of PPD. No significant associations were found for physical activity domains during the first pregnancy trimester. Higher levels of household and caregiving activities and leisure-time sedentary behavior in the last trimester of pregnancy appear to increase the likelihood of postpartum depression. Purpose and context should be taken into account when encouraging physical activity as a strategy to help prevent postpartum mental health problems from pregnancy onwards. Reducing sedentary behavior could be a complementary strategy.
Keywords: Domain-specific physical activity; Postpartum depression; Pregnancy; Sedentary behavior.
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