Social Support. Postpartum Depression and Professional Assistance: A Survey of Mothers in the Midwestern United States

Corrigan, Catherine P., and Andrea N. Kwasky

The impetus for the study was derived from the U.S. practice guidelines for postpartum care and the need to better understand how mothers of newborns transition into motherhood. Lack of postpartum support can contribute to maternal and infant morbidity and mortality. Worldwide, the number of maternal deaths decreased by 47% from 1990 – 2010, yet the rate U.S. has doubled in the past 25 years. Among the many factors involved is the care of the postpartum mother. Assessing how mothers perceive social support may prove valuable to the overall health of mothers and their infants.

A descriptive, cross-sectional study examined whether mothers who screened positive for depression also self-reported feelings of postpartum depression; if percieved social support for mothers influenced their level of depressive symptoms and if mothers who were overwhelmed with childcare responsibilities, or overwhelmed in life since becoming a mother, sought professional help.

The results of the study revealed that nearly half of the participants who screened positive for depression according to the Edinburg Postnatel Depression Scale (score of 9 or above), self-reported not being depressed, in contrast to other research findings, where women who had a positive postpartum depression screen reported depressive symptoms.

Secondly. mothers who sought professional help tended to feel more overwhelmed in life since becoming a mother, rather than being more overwhelmed with childcare responsibilities per se.

Finally, over one third of the participants in this study attended prenatal classes, yet only two participants attended postnatal classes. Although mothers obtain postpartum instruction in prenatal classes, they often have questions after they return home. A total of 72% (n=44) of the participants contacted healthcare professionals for help in the postpartum period and half of the women who did not have contact with a nurse or doula in the first week after delivery, indicated that this contact would have been beneficial.

 

 

 

Clinical Implications