Bad relationship with spouse causes ‘pre-baby blues’

Washington: A new study has found that a bad relationship with the husband or partner is the strongest predictor of maternal emotional distress during pregnancy.

Anxiety and depression during pregnancy can result in premature birth, or low birth weight, and impact the child``s health even into early school years.

A Norwegian study involving almost 50,000 mums-to-be looked at how these women felt about their work, family or partner, and compared their bouts of illness, alcohol and smoking habits. The amount of support women received from their partners had the strongest link with mental health; those women who were most unhappy with their relationships were the most likely to be depressed.

Illness and troubles at work were also linked to prenatal emotional distress as were problems with alcohol in the preceding year. However a good relationship was a buffer against most everyday stresses. Women who were happy with their partner were better able to cope with difficulties at work, lack of money, or other stressful situations such as moving house or being ill.

While older mothers seemed to be better able to cope during pregnancy, young mums struggled more. Gun-Mette Rosand from the Norwegian Institute of Public Health said, "It is important that antenatal courses should include relationship classes and that close attention should be paid to women who lack the support of a good relationship."

The research is published in BioMed Central``s open access journal BMC Public Health.