Volume 52, Issue 3
Pages 161 - 170

Association of Pregnancy Contexts with Depression and Low Social Support in Early Pregnancy


Research into the relationship between pregnancy intention and perinatal depression or low social support is limited. Women's perspectives on pregnancy and their associations with perinatal depression could help in developing targeted efforts for screening and intervention.


In 2014–2015, 161 women seeking pregnancy testing or abortion care at clinics in New Haven, Connecticut, were surveyed. They were asked about pregnancy context (intentions, planning, wantedness, desirability, timing and happiness), and the Edinburgh Depression Screen (EDS) and the Modified Kendler Social Support Index (MKSSI) were used to identify possible antenatal depression and low social support, respectively. Multivariable logistic regression analysis was employed to examine associations between pregnancy context and these outcomes.


On average, participants were 27 years old and at nine weeks’ gestation. One‐fifth reported a previous diagnosis of depression or anxiety, and 22% and 33% screened positive for depression (EDS scores of 13 or higher and 10 or higher, respectively); 52% received low social support (MKSSI score of 3.2 or less). Regression analysis found that pregnancies described as unintended, poorly timed or undesired were associated with depression at the higher cutoff (odds ratios, 3.2–4.5); all unfavorable pregnancy measures were associated with depression at the lower cutoff. Ambivalence regarding pregnancy timing, intention, wantedness and desirability was associated with increased odds of depression by either EDS score. Unplanned pregnancies and those about which the woman was ambivalent were associated with low social support.


Findings support the need to screen women for depression early in pregnancy and to integrate assessments of pregnancy context into the evaluation of potential risk factors.

Authors' Affiliations

Lisbet S. Lundsberg is associate research scientist, Abigail S. Cutler is clinical instructor, Nancy L. Stanwood is associate professor and Aileen M. Gariepy is associate professor—all at the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT. Kimberly A. Yonkers is professor, Department of Psychiatry and Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences, Yale University School of Medicine.

The views expressed in this publication do not necessarily reflect those of the Guttmacher Institute.

Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health