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Chung, Esther O.; Hagaman, Ashley; Bibi, Amina; Frost, Allison; Haight, Sarah C.; Sikander, Siham; & Maselko, Joanna (Online ahead of print). Mother-In-Law Childcare and Perinatal Depression in Rural Pakistan. Womens Health. PMCID: PMC9726850


BACKGROUND: Mothers-in-law often provide key childcare support to daughters-in-law during the perinatal period that may enhance maternal mental health. Yet, poor mother-in-law/daughter-in-law relationships may be associated with maternal depression. The extent to which mother-in-law childcare involvement affects perinatal depression may differ across contexts of family conflict.
OBJECTIVE: We explored the relationship between mother-in-law childcare and daughter-in-law perinatal depression in rural Pakistan across contexts of family conflict.
METHODS: Data on 783 women came from the Bachpan Cohort, a birth cohort in Pakistan. Maternally-reported mother-in-law childcare was assessed at 3 and 12 months postpartum using a 24-h recall and categorized into no, low, and high involvement. Major depression was captured at 3 and 12 months using the Structured Clinical Interview for Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders IV. Family conflict was captured using three items from the Life Events Checklist. Log-Poisson models were used to estimate cross-sectional associations between mother-in-law childcare and perinatal depression, stratified by family conflict.
RESULTS: Mother-in-law childcare was common in the first year postpartum. The association between mother-in-law childcare and perinatal depression differed by the presence of family conflict and postpartum timing. At 3 months postpartum, low and high mother-in-law childcare (vs no involvement) were associated with a lower prevalence of depression regardless of family conflict. At 12 months postpartum, among families with no conflict, low mother-in-law childcare (vs no involvement) was associated with lower perinatal depression; however, among families with conflict, high mother-in-law childcare was associated with increased perinatal depression.
CONCLUSION: Our findings highlight the complexities of associations between mother-in-law childcare support and perinatal depression in the first year after birth. Mother-in-law childcare in the immediate postpartum period was beneficial for mothers. Understanding the source, amount, timing, and context of social support is necessary to inform research and interventions that aim to improve maternal mental health.


Reference Type

Journal Article

Year Published

Online ahead of print

Journal Title

Womens Health


Chung, Esther O.
Hagaman, Ashley
Bibi, Amina
Frost, Allison
Haight, Sarah C.
Sikander, Siham
Maselko, Joanna

Article Type




Data Set/Study

Bachpan Cohort Study






Maselko - 0000-0002-6270-8237