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Keywords:

  • depressive symptoms;
  • transition to parenthood;
  • intimate relationships;
  • parenting care and acceptance;
  • longitudinal

Trajectories of change in maternal depressive symptoms were examined in a sample of 98 mothers across the transition to parenthood. Latent class growth modeling revealed two unique trajectories: one characterized by consistently low depressive symptoms, the other characterized by a curvilinear pattern with initially elevated symptoms that declined around the time of childbirth then returned to elevated levels by 24 weeks postpartum. Mothers who recalled less paternal care and acceptance in childhood and who reported that they engaged in more avoidance and aggression in their own romantic relationships were more likely to experience the curvilinear trajectory. Mothers who reported that their partners engaged in more avoidance in their romantic relationships were also more likely to experience the curvilinear trajectory, but especially when mothers recalled low maternal care and acceptance. Partner's aggression did not predict the trajectory of maternal depressive symptoms. Results have implications for screening for maternal postpartum depression.