Precarious working conditions and psychosocial work stress act as a risk factor for symptoms of postpartum depression during maternity leave: results from a longitudinal cohort study

Research output: Contribution to journalResearch articleContributedpeer-review



BACKGROUND: The majority of Western women work during their reproductive years, but past research has often neglected the influence of work-related factors on postpartum mental health. Especially postpartum depression (PPD) is an enormous psychological burden for mothers. Therefore, this study aims to investigate the prospective impact of precarious working conditions and psychosocial work stress during pregnancy (such as work-privacy conflict and effort-reward imbalance at the job) on symptoms of maternal PPD.

METHODS: In the prospective-longitudinal cohort study DREAM (DResdner Studie zu Elternschaft, Arbeit und Mentaler Gesundheit), N = 587 employed women were questioned about their work during pregnancy and their mental health 8 weeks after delivery.

RESULTS: Multiple regression analyses revealed that work-privacy conflict, low reward at work, and precarious working conditions significantly predicted symptoms of PPD, even when controlling for lifetime depression, anxiety, education, parity, and age.

CONCLUSION: Our results indicate that psychosocial work stress and precarious working conditions have important implications for maternal peripartum mental health. They might act as prospective risk factors for PPD during the period of maternal leave. Hence, future research should focus on preventative measures targeting work life.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1505
JournalBMC Public Health
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 6 Oct 2020

External IDs

PubMedCentral PMC7539402
Scopus 85092441445


Sustainable Development Goals


  • Adult, Depression, Postpartum/etiology, Employment/psychology, Female, Humans, Longitudinal Studies, Mental Health, Mothers/psychology, Occupational Stress/psychology, Parental Leave/statistics & numerical data, Parity, Postpartum Period/psychology, Pregnancy, Prospective Studies, Risk Factors, Women, Working/psychology, Young Adult