Family support eases postnatal blues


THE MORE support new first-time mothers get from family and friends, the less likely they are to suffer from postnatal depression, a new study has found.

A mother who has no support at birth is three times more at risk of developing postnatal depression at six weeks than a mother with support, according to research carried out by University College Cork (UCC).

The study of more than 500 first-time mothers in Cork, funded by the Health Research Board, revealed the prevalence of postnatal depression was 13 per cent at six weeks and 10 per cent at 12 weeks.

Dr Patricia Leahy-Warren, senior lecturer at UCC’s School of Nursing and Midwifery, said there was a significant relationship between informal social support provided by family and friends, and postnatal depression.

She has recommended that partners and maternal mothers be acknowledged as a primary support to first-time mothers and should be more actively involved in the antenatal and postnatal period.

“I am also recommending universal screening of postnatal depression in the community setting as public health nurses are the people who look after new mums and babies.”

She was speaking at the 9th annual Nursing and Midwifery Research Conference at UCC.