Recently, Pregnancy Intention and Post-partum Depressive Affect in Louisiana Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System was published in the Maternal Child Health Journal . The article, co-authored1 by Katherine Theall, Ph.D.2, MAC Director; Lauren F. Dunaway2, Research and Evaluation Program Manager at MAC, utilizes data from the statewide survey, The Louisiana Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System Phase IV (LaPRAMS), to address how pregnancy intention of both the mother and husband/partner not only affects the likelihood of post-partum depressive symptoms (PPDs) of women but also the severity of it. Adding race as an indicator, over 5000 mothers who had experienced a single live birth who remained alive at the time of the survey were included in the research.
Since post-partum depression has been associated with both physical and mental outcomes of mother and baby, this research investigates further to reveal that women who wanted or intended to get pregnant are less likely to suffer with PPDs while women who had unwanted or mistimed pregnancies(wanted a baby at a later time) were more like to suffer with PPDs. Moreover, those with unwanted pregnancies are more likely to suffer severe PPDs. The study used the additional criteria of the partner’s or husband’s wantedness. Siting that women who did not want the pregnancy but whose husbands/partners wanted the pregnancy report severe PPDs while women and husbands/partners who both did not want the pregnancy are likely to have mild PPDs. Along racial lines, White women experienced severe PPDs affect if their husband or partner did not want the pregnancy while Black women experienced mild PPDs.
While the paper concludes that mother and husband/partner pregnancy intention is not a precise risk factor for PPDs, it certainly should be considered along with other stressors such as marital stress, inadequate social support, and partner violence which according to PRAMS surveillance is one of the strongest factors for PPDs during pregnancy.
1 Co-authors of Pregnancy Intention and Post-partum Depressive Affect in Louisiana Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System: Elizabeth Y. Suh2, Ping Ma, University of Texas, Southwestern Medical center, Dallas, Texas.
2 Global Community Health and Behavioral Sciences, Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine