Is difficult childbirth related to postpartum maternal outcomes in the early postpartum period?

Diane F. Hunker, Thelma E. Patrick, Susan A. Albrecht, Katherine L. Wisner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Unplanned, adverse events during labor or delivery may generate a negative response during the early postpartum period, resulting in disruption of usual functioning and mood. High levels of maternal depressive symptoms are associated with parenting, infant attachment, behavioral problems and cognition (Beck 2002). The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship of adverse events in labor or delivery and depressive symptoms, functional status and infant care at 2-weeks postpartum. The secondary aim was to explore the role of social support as a possible moderator in the relationship between adverse birth events and maternal outcomes. A secondary analysis of data (n∈=∈123) was performed using data collected in a prospective, observational study examining the effects of antidepressant use during pregnancy. Adverse events did not significantly predict depressive symptoms (odds ratio∈=∈1.34, p∈=∈.536), functional status (R2 change∈=∈.001, p∈=∈.66), or infant care (R2 change∈=∈.004, p∈=∈.48) at 2-weeks postpartum when controlling for depression during pregnancy, antidepressant use at delivery, education level, age, and parity. Social support had significant effects on depressive symptoms (p∈=∈.02), functional status (p∈=∈.014), and infant care (p∈<∈.001) but did not moderate the effect of adverse events when predicting depressive symptoms (odds ratio∈=∈1.01, p∈=∈.045), functional status (R2 change∈=∈.009, p∈=∈.056) and infant care (R2 change∈<∈.001, p∈=∈.92). Adverse events did not predict maternal outcomes at 2-weeks postpartum. Social support was related to depressive symptoms, functional status and infant care, but did not moderate the effects of adverse events.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)211-219
Number of pages9
JournalArchives of Women's Mental Health
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2009


  • Adverse birth event
  • Difficult childbirth
  • Infant care
  • Maternal depression
  • Maternal functional status
  • Social support

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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