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Abstract

Research shows that social support and maternal self-efficacy are inversely related to postpartum depression; however, little is known about the mechanisms by which these variables impact on depressive symptomatology. This study uses path analysis to examine the proposal that maternal self-efficacy mediates the effects of social support on postpartum depressive symptomatology. Primiparous women (n=247) completed questionnaires during their last trimester and then again at 4 weeks' postpartum (n=192). It was hypothesized that higher levels of parental support, partner support, and maternal self-efficacy would be associated with lower levels of depressive symptomatology postpartum and that the relationship between social support and depressive symptomatology would be mediated by maternal self-efficacy. Results indicated that as expected, higher parental support and maternal self-efficacy were associated with lower levels of depressive symptomatology postpartum. Partner support was found to be unrelated to both depressive symptomatology and maternal self-efficacy. Results from the path analysis supported the mediation model. Findings suggest that parental support lowers depressive symptomatology by the enhancement of maternal self-efficacy.