Pregnant women with a poor partner relationship over 4 times more likely to experience stress (Iceland)

pregnancy relationship

A study of 2523 pregnant women in Iceland found that those who reported a poor partner relationship were 4.59 times more likely to experience distress. They were also significantly more likely to be dissatisfied with the division of household tasks and childcare.

The researchers, led by Sigríður Sía Jónsdóttir in Sweden, conclude that routine maternal healthcare should include an assessment of the partner relationship and the extent of social support. There should also be guidelines on how health professionals can reliably identify stress in pregnant women.

The women were recruited in the 16th week of their pregnancy from Primary Health Care Centres in Reykjavik and Akureyri. They were assessed three times at 16 weeks, 25 weeks and 36 weeks.

Two scales were used to detect symptoms of both stress and depression: the Edinburgh Depression Scale and the Depression, Anxiety, Stress Scale. Another questionnaire assessed the partner relationship – the Dyadic Adjustment Scale. This asked the women to rate how much agreement there is with their partner on things like family finances, major decisions, philosophy of life, dealing with parents-in-law and spending time together.

All the 396 women who reported stress in one of the assessments were offered a diagnostic interview with a mental health professional. This resulted in 360 interviews, the results of which were compared to 202 further interviews with women who did not report stress.


Jonsdottir SS, Thome M, Steingrimsdottir T, Lydsdottir LB, Sigurdsson JF, Olafsdottir H & Swahnberg K (2017), Partner relationship, social support and perinatal distress among pregnant Icelandic women, Women and Birth 30

Photo: Mikael Tjemsland. Creative Commons.