Aim: To determine whether a simple question about maternal recall of postpartum depressive symptoms could aid in identifying maternal distress at 18 months postpartum.
Methods: 1168 mothers of children aged 17-20 months completed a questionnaire including the item "Were you low/sad after delivery?" Low postpartum distress (PD) was defined as "no, not at all", medium PD "yes, somewhat", and high PD "yes, very". Maternal stress, perceived child difficultness and difficulty to handle child mobility, i.e. to prevent the child from moving around in a way the mother may find tiresome, were used as criteria of current maternal distress.
Results: With one exception (spouse relationship stress), low PD mothers reported the most favourable and high PD mothers the least favourable outcomes in terms of stress, perceived child difficulty and problems handling child mobility, with medium PD mothers in between. All these differences were significant. Effect sizes were small to large.
Conclusions: Our questionnaire item about postpartum distress seemed valid in differentiating between levels of current maternal distress, defined in terms of stress, perceived child difficultness and difficulty to handle child mobility. The fact that our item was retrospective and required recall by the mothers limited its value somewhat. However, our findings indicate that the 18-month check-up at the child health centre offers a good opportunity for asking, on a routine basis, some simple question about the mother's current stress or distress.
2015. Vol. 1, no 1