A study of 180 couples in Xi’an city in northwestern China has found high levels of depressive symptoms among fathers: 21% 3 days after the birth, 20% after two weeks and 14% after six weeks.
Both parents were interviewed three times (3 days, 2 weeks, 6 weeks after the birth) and asked to complete surveys assessing mood, feeling of effectiveness as a parent and satisfaction with the marital relationship.
Fathers reporting higher depressive symptoms were more likely to:
- report low feelings of competence in caring for the baby (which is related to reporting the baby is “easy”)
- report low satisfaction with the relationship with the mother
- be married to a mother reporting her own worse depressive symptoms
- be from an urban background
- have a higher education
- have the baby by a Caesarean birth
- have a boy rather than a girl
- have a partial understanding of babycare (neither very well-informed nor completely uninformed).
The mean age of the fathers was 29 years old. 92% were employed, 72% were from urban areas, 64% had a college education.
The authors speculate whether China’s one-childbirth policy increases the pressure that mothers and fathers feel.
ZhangY-P, Zhang L-L, Wei H-H, Zhang Yao, Zhang C-L & Porr C (2016), Post partum depression and the psychosocial predictors in first-time fathers from northwestern China, Midwifery 35
Photo: John X. Creative Commons.