Physical, sexual and social health factors associated with the trajectories of maternal depressive symptoms from pregnancy to 4 years postpartum
Few studies have examined the course of maternal depressive across pregnancy and early parenthood. The aim of this study was to identify the physical, sexual and social health factors associated with the trajectories of maternal depressive symptoms from pregnancy to 4 years postpartum.
Data were drawn from 1102 women participating in the Maternal Health Study, a prospective pregnancy cohort study in Melbourne, Australia. Self-administered questionnaires were completed at baseline (<24 weeks gestation), and at 3-, 6-, 12-, and 18 months, and 4 years postpartum.
Latent class analysis modelling identified three distinct classes representing women who experienced minimal depressive symptoms (58.4%), subclinical symptoms (32.7%), and persistently high symptoms from pregnancy to 4 years postpartum (9.0%). Risk factors for subclinical and persistently high depressive symptoms were having migrated from a non-English speaking country, not being in paid employment during pregnancy, history of childhood physical abuse, history of depressive symptoms, partner relationship problems during pregnancy, exhaustion at 3 months postpartum, three or more sexual health problems at 3 months postpartum, and fear of a partner since birth at 6 months postpartum.
This study highlights the complexity of the relationships between emotional, physical, sexual and social health, and underscores the need for health professionals to ask women about their physical and sexual health, and consider the impact on their mental health throughout pregnancy and the early postpartum.
KeywordsDepression Postnatal Mental health Maternal Longitudinal analyses
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