Changes of Maternal Anxiety from Mid Pregnancy to Postpartum

Monday, 22 July 2013

Ching-Yu Cheng, PhD, RN
School of Nursing, Chang Gung University of Science and Technology, Chiayi, Taiwan
Shwu-Ru Liou, PhD, RN
Department of Nursing, Chang Gung University of Science and Technology, Chiayi, Taiwan
Panchalli Wang, MD
Obstetrics/Gynecology, Chiayi Christian Hospital, Chia-Yi, Taiwan

Learning Objective 1: The learner will be able to understand changes of maternal anxiety from pregnancy to postpartum.

Learning Objective 2: The learner will be able to understand relationships between maternal anxiety at different time points during pregnancy and postpartum.

Purpose: Maternal anxiety although was found to be related to preterm birth was not widely studied, not to mention its longitudinal changes from pregnancy to postpartum. The purpose of this study is to understand changes and prediction of maternal anxiety from pregnancy to postpartum. Research questions included (a) how maternal anxiety changes from pregnancy to postpartum, and (b) can anxiety at earlier time predict it at later time point? 

Methods: Data from 197 pregnant women with a mean age of 29.71 were analyzed for this longitudinal study. Most women were primiparous, employed, and happy about the pregnancy. Majority of them gave birth vaginally. Mean infant birthweight was 3028.12 grams with 5.6% low birthweight, gestational age at birth was 38.20 weeks with 9.6% born prematurely. The Zung Self-rating Anxiety Scale (SAS) was used to measure anxiety. Data were collected when participants were 25-28 (T1), 29-34 (T2), over 34 (T3) weeks of gestation and 4-6 weeks postpartum (T4). Descriptive statistics, Mann-Whitney U test, Kruskal-Wallis test, Generalized Estimation Equation (GEE), regression, and Sobel test were used to analyze the data. 

Results: The participants had medium level of anxiety during pregnancy and postpartum. Anxiety level significantly increased from T1 to T3 and decreased after childbirth. Anxiety did not differ by any demographic variables during pregnancy or postpartum. Anxiety at all data collection time points were correlated with each other except for T1 anxiety was weakly correlated with T4 anxiety. Anxiety at T1 could predict T3 anxiety; however, 90.08% of this prediction effect was mediated by T2 anxiety. 

Conclusion: Early detection of maternal anxiety regardless of mothers’ demographic characteristics can help mothers to manage higher level of anxiety at later pregnancy, which may influence maternal and fetal health. Research on interventions to reduce maternal anxiety is needed.