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Sociocultural factors associated with the development of postnatal anxiety symptoms

02 June 2019
Volume 27 · Issue 6



Postnatal anxiety is relatively common when transitioning to parenthood; however, there are relatively few studies assessing postnatal anxiety in Middle Eastern women.


To identify the prevalence of postnatal anxiety among Jordanian women and associated sociocultural factors.


A descriptive cross-sectional design was used with 324 women. Participants completed the Depression, Anxiety, and Stress Scale (DASS) and Maternity Social Support Scale at 6-8 weeks postpartum in addition to a sociodemographic data form.


Some 45.4% of women scored above ‘mild’ on the DASS scale. Postnatal anxiety was significantly associated with low levels of support, giving birth to a female baby, financial difficulties, and having four or more children. Findings revealed a high level of postnatal anxiety among Jordanian women.


There is a need for routine assessment, ongoing support, counselling and emotional care, which are important to enhance maternal satisfaction and psychological wellbeing.

Childbirth and the postpartum period expose women to various social, biological and psychological changes. Although these changes may lead to individual growth and fulfilment, some women may also be vulnerable to mental distress associated with depression and anxiety (Mohammad et al, 2011). Postnatal anxiety is a relatively common phenomenon when transitioning to motherhood (Zeidner and Matthews, 2010). Worldwide, the prevalence of postnatal anxiety is estimated at 3–43%, with relatively little difference in rates between developed and developing countries (Falah-Hassani et al, 2016; Dennis et al, 2017a; Field, 2018).

Factors that give rise to postnatal anxiety are not clear, but a multi-factorial aetiology is commonly accepted (Anniverno et al, 2013). The development of postnatal anxiety has been associated with perinatal, interpersonal and sociocultural factors. Perinatal stressors include mode of birth, admission to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), previous experience of childbirth and prenatal loss (Michels et al, 2013; Desmarais et al, 2014; Shlomi Polachek et al, 2014; Falah-Hassani et al, 2016). Interpersonal and relationship stressors include marital dissatisfaction, intimate partner violence, low social support, and lack of child care support (Shrestha et al, 2014; Falah-Hassani et al, 2016; Field; 2018). Sociocultural factors include the relationship with the mother-in-law and sex of the baby, which may play an important role for many Asian and Middle Eastern women (Bener et al, 2012; Anniverno et al, 2013; Shrestha et al, 2014). A previous maternal or family history of psychiatric illness, financial difficulty, and having an unplanned pregnancy (Bener et al, 2012; Anniverno et al, 2013; Shrestha et al, 2014; Field, 2018) may also be associated with the development of postnatal anxiety.

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