Postpartum anxiety screening does not typically occur, despite changes in life roles and responsibility after childbirth. We sought to determine the prevalence of postpartum anxiety during the maternity hospitalization and its associations with maternal and child outcomes. We further aimed to compare correlates of anxiety with correlates of depression.
For a randomized controlled trial of mothers with “well” newborns ≥34 weeks’ gestation comparing 2 post–hospital discharge care models, mothers completed baseline in-person interviews during the postpartum stay and telephone surveys at 2 weeks, 2 months, and 6 months to assess health care use, breastfeeding duration, anxiety, and depression. All participants intended to breastfeed. State anxiety scores ≥40 on the State Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI) and depression scores ≥12 on the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Survey (EPDS) were considered positive.
A total of 192 (17%) of 1123 participating mothers had a positive baseline STAI; 62 (6%) had a positive EPDS. Primiparity was associated with a positive STAI (20% vs 15%, P = .02), but not a positive EPDS (4% vs 7%, P = .05). Positive STAI scores were associated with cesarean delivery (22% vs 15%, P = .001), reduced duration of breastfeeding (P = .003), and increased maternal, but not infant total unplanned health care utilization within 2 weeks of delivery (P = .001). Positive STAI scores occurred more frequently than positive EPDS scores at each assessment through 6 months postpartum.
Postpartum state anxiety is a common, acute phenomenon during the maternity hospitalization that is associated with increased maternal health care utilization after discharge and reduced breastfeeding duration. State anxiety screening during the postpartum stay could improve these outcomes.