BACKGROUND: While maternal postpartum depression is a well-known phenomenon, paternal postnatal depression has been less studied. It is known that paternal postnatal depression impacts on children's and families' development, affects marital satisfaction and affects the economic health of industrialized countries. The aim of this study was to identify the psychosocial factors associated with paternal postnatal depression.
METHODS: A descriptive-correlational study was conducted with a sample of fathers of infants (average age: 11 months) who were breastfed exclusively or predominantly for at least 6 months, comparing psychosocial factors in fathers with (n: 17, 8.2%) and without a positive score for depression on the EPDS scale (n: 188). Psychosocial factors were assessed through questionnaires.
RESULTS: Depression in fathers of breastfed infants is associated with the experience of perinatal loss in a previous pregnancy, parenting distress, infant temperament (difficult child), dysfunctional interactions with the child, decreased marital adjustment and perceived low parenting efficacy. Multivariate analysis suggests an independent effect of psychosocial factors such as parenting distress, quality of the marital relationship and perceived parenting efficacy on paternal depression.
LIMITATIONS: The sample focused on fathers of breastfed infant, since breastfeeding has become the feeding norm, and this should be taken into account when considering the generalization of findings.
CONCLUSION: These findings emphasize the need to consider a set of psychosocial factors when examining fathers' mental health in the first year of a child's birth. Health professionals can enhance parenting efficacy and alleviate parenting distress by supporting fathers' unique experiences and addressing their needs.