Screening for perceived stress among pregnant women availing antenatal care at a tertiary care teaching institution in Kerala, India


  • Heera Shenoy T. Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, KMCT Medical College and Hospital, Kozhikode, Kerala, India
  • Remash K. Department of Medicine, Malabar Medical College Hospital and Research Centre, Kozhikode, Kerala, India
  • Sheela Shenoy T. Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Government Medical College, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, India



Determinants, Perceived stress scale, Post-partum depression, Postnatal stress, Risk factors, Social factors, Screening


Background: Stress during pregnancy can have serious adverse outcomes on the mother, the foetus and the new-born. It can lead to low-birth-weight, preterm births and neuro-psychological effects such as anxiety and depression during pregnancy and puerperium. This cross-sectional research aims to assess the severity of stress among postnatal women in Kerala. This study analysed socio-demographic, obstetric, family dynamics, neonatal characteristics and psychiatric determinants of postpartum stress using perceived stress scale (PSS) among postnatal women in a tertiary hospital in Kerala state, India.

Methods: 119 women between 2 to 6 weeks of postpartum period were subjected to a pre-tested pre-structured standard questionnaire. Terminal illness, still birth delivery and comorbid psychiatric illness was excluded. Screening and diagnosis of postpartum stress was done based on perceived stress scale (PSS) and graded as mild 0-13, moderate 14-26, severe 27-40.

Results: Study findings indicated a statistically significant association between postpartum stress and risk factors such as unplanned/unwanted pregnancy. The mean age of women was 27±4.8 years. Support from spouse and in-laws was a negative predictor of developing both postnatal stress and depression. Family income, education of couple and husbands’ occupations were non-determinant factors (p>0.05) in this study. Psychiatric illness in the family and past history of psychiatric illness also contributed to postnatal stress. The most important variable which influenced perceived stress during pregnancy was lengthier NICU stay. Even breastfeeding problems and associated neonatal issues worsened the stress scales significantly in the immediate postnatal period.

Conclusions: This research concluded that stress detection and timely counselling along with mental and physical support will mitigate stress and postpartum depression.


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Original Research Articles