Archives of Women's Mental Health

, Volume 20, Issue 1, pp 161–171 | Cite as

Prevalence of stressful life events during pregnancy and its association with postpartum depressive symptoms

  • Trina Salm WardEmail author
  • Florence A. Kanu
  • Sara Wagner Robb
Original Article


Experiencing stressful life events (SLEs) has negative consequences for both mother and infant. This study examined the predictive contributions of (1) experiences of each SLE separately and its association with postpartum depressive symptoms (PDS), (2) experiences of cumulative number of SLEs and PDS, and (3) the cumulative experiences of SLEs across three domains (relational, financial, physical health). Georgia’s Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System data were obtained from 2004 to 2011. Chi-square tests and a combination of weighted logistic regression models were conducted to predict self-reported PDS. Odds ratios (OR) and 95 % confidence intervals (CI) were reported. A total of 10,231 women were included in the analysis; 15 % of the mothers reported PDS. Arguments with partner, trouble paying bills, and separation/divorce significantly predicted increased odds of PDS. Increased odds of PDS were observed with increasing numbers of cumulative SLEs. Experiencing high stress in any domain significantly predicted PDS with the highest predictor being high stress across all domains, followed by experiencing a combination of high relational and financial stress. SLEs were associated with reporting PDS among new mothers in Georgia. It is important to assess for SLEs during prenatal care and provide resources aimed at reducing the impact of SLEs.


Prenatal stress Life stress Postpartum depression Pregnancy risk assessment and monitoring system (PRAMS) Principal component analysis (PCA) 



Georgia Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System (PRAMS) data were collected and provided by the PRAMS Project in the Maternal and Child Epidemiology Section of the Georgia Department of Public Health (GDPH). The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Cooperative Agreement grant number UR6/DP000508 provided funding to GDPH for data collection and some staff support. We also acknowledge The PRAMS Working Group.

Compliance with ethical standards



Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Wien 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Social WorkUniversity of GeorgiaAthensUSA
  2. 2.Department of Health Promotion and Behavior, College of Public HealthUniversity of GeorgiaAthensUSA
  3. 3.Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, College of Public HealthUniversity of GeorgiaAthensUSA

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