Background:  Inadequate social support is an important determinant of postpartum depression (PPD). Social support for pregnant women consists of supports from various sources and can be measured at different gestation periods. Differentiating the effects of social support from different sources and measured at different gestation periods may have important implications in the prevention of PPD. In the family centred Chinese culture, family support is likely to be one of the most important components in social support.
Aims:  The aim of this study was to assess the association of prenatal family support and postnatal family support with PPD.
Methods:  A prospective cohort study was conducted between February and September 2007 in Hunan, China. Family support was measured with social support rating scale at 30–32 weeks of gestation (prenatal support) and again at 2 weeks of postpartum visit (postnatal support). PPD was defined as Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS) score ≥13.
Results:  A total of 534 pregnant women were included, and among them, 103 (19.3%) scored 13 or more on the EPDS. PPD was 19.4% in the lowest tertile versus 18.4% in the highest quartile (adjusted odds ratio: 1.04, 95% confidence interval 0.60, 1.80) for prenatal support from all family members, and PPD was 39.8% in the lowest tertile versus 9.6% in the highest tertile (adjusted odds ratio: 4.4, 95% confidence interval 2.3, 8.4) for postnatal support from all family members. Among family members, support from husband had the largest impact on the risk of developing PPD.
Conclusions:  Lack of postnatal family support, especially the support from husband, is an important risk factor of PPD.