Research Article| Volume 33, ISSUE 6, P583-591, November 2020

Psychological distress in pregnancy and postpartum

Published:February 05, 2020DOI:



      Depression, stress, and anxiety, termed ‘psychological distress,’ are common in pregnancy and postpartum periods. However, it is unclear whether prenatal psychological distress predicts postpartum psychological distress. We studied the prevalence, comorbidity and associations of maternal depression, stress, and anxiety in the prenatal period in relation to the occurrence of these same measures in the postpartum period.


      Data originated from the MotherToBaby study of pregnant women residing in the U.S or Canada (2016–2018). Risk ratios and 95% Confidence Intervals using modified-Poisson regression models were used to investigate associations between prenatal psychological distress and postpartum psychological distress.


      Of the 288 women in the analysis, 21.2% and 26.7% of women had evidence of prenatal and postnatal psychological distress, respectively. Among those with prenatal psychological distress, 43 (70.5%) also had postpartum psychological distress. Twenty-five (41%) of those with prenatal and 46 (60%) of those with postpartum psychological distress had comorbidity of at least two of the measures. Prenatal measures independently predicted the same postnatal measures; prenatal anxiety also independently predicted postpartum stress. Participants who experienced more types of prenatal psychological distress were at higher risk for postpartum depression, stress, and anxiety.


      Depression, stress, and anxiety are common in pregnant women and often occur together. Prenatal psychological distress measures are associated with postnatal psychological distress measures, with stronger associations among women with more than one type of psychological distress in pregnancy. Interventions during pregnancy may reduce the risk of postpartum psychological distress.


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