There is little research done on mental health among pregnant Aboriginal women. Therefore, the purpose of the study was to examine the prevalence of postpartum depression (PPD) and its determinants, including pre-existing depression among non-Aboriginal and Aboriginal women in Canada.
The Maternity Experiences Survey (MES) is a national survey of Canadian women’s experiences and practices before conception, up to the early months of parenthood. Predictors of PPD were calculated using the Mantel-Haenszel correction method relative to the risk estimates based on the odds ratio from adjusted regression analysis. The analysis was conducted among women who self-identified as Aboriginal (Inuit, Métis or First Nations living off-reserve) and those who identified as non-Aboriginal.
The prevalence of pre-existing depression was higher among self-reported First Nations off-reserve and Métis women than non-Aboriginal women. Inuit women had the lowest prevalence of self-reported pre-existing depression, and Aboriginal women reported a higher prevalence of PPD than non-Aboriginal women. Pre-existing depression was not a predictor for PPD for Inuit or Métis women in this study but was a positive predictor among First Nations off-reserve and non-Aboriginal women. A disproportionally higher number of Aboriginal women reported experiencing abuse, as compared to non-Aboriginal women.
Our study demonstrated that common predictors of PPD including anxiety, experiencing stressful life events during pregnancy, having low levels of social support, and a previous history of depression were consistent among non-Aboriginal women. However, with the exception of the number of stressful events among First Nations offreserve, these were not associated with PPD among Aboriginal women. This information can be used to further increase awareness of mental health indicators among Aboriginal women.