Few longitudinal studies have examined associations between risk factors during pregnancy and mental health outcomes during the postpartum period. We used a cohort study design to estimate the prevalence, incidence and correlates of significant postpartum depressive symptoms in Kenyan women.
We recruited adult women residing in an urban, resource-poor setting and attending maternal and child health clinics in two public hospitals in Nairobi, Kenya. A translated Kiswahili Edinburgh Postpartum Depression Scale was used to screen for depressive symptoms at baseline assessment in the 3rd trimester and follow up assessment at 6–10 weeks postpartum. Information was collected on potential demographic, psychosocial and clinical risk variables. Potential risk factors for postpartum depression were evaluated using multivariate logistic regression analysis.
Out of the 171 women who were followed up at 6–10 weeks postpartum, 18.7% (95% CI: 13.3–25.5) were found to have postpartum depression using an EPDS cut off of 10. In multivariate analyses, the odds of having postpartum depression was increased more than seven-fold in the presence of conflict with partner (OR = 7.52, 95% CI: 2.65–23.13). The association between antepartum and postpartum depression was quite strong but did not reach statistical significance (OR = 3.37, 95% CI: 0.98–11.64).
The high prevalence of significant postnatal depressive symptoms among Kenyan women underscores the need for addressing this public health burden. Depression screening and psychosocial support interventions that address partner conflict resolution should be offered as part of maternal health care.