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28-09-2019 | Original Paper | Uitgave 2/2020

Journal of Child and Family Studies 2/2020

The Association of Religion and Spirituality with Postpartum Mental Health in Women with Childhood Maltreatment Histories

Journal of Child and Family Studies > Uitgave 2/2020
Jonathan E. Handelzalts, Marissa K. Stringer, Rena A. Menke, Maria Muzik
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Although the associations between religion and spirituality and mental health and trauma have been studied extensively across various populations, relatively few studies have focused on the postpartum period. This study aimed to shed light on specific domains of religiosity and spirituality that may be resiliency factors for positive postpartum adjustment defined as low depression and high quality of life in mothers oversampled for childhood trauma histories.


We examined several religion and spirituality variables among 108 women at 6 months postpartum as well as prospective relations from religion and spirituality to postpartum depression and quality of life at 12 and 15 months postpartum.


We found that the personal aspects of self-forgiveness and forgiveness for others were most relevant as resiliency factors predicting lower postpartum depression and better quality of life even when controlling for other risks (trauma and demographics). Surprisingly, no other religion and spirituality domain had associations with postpartum depression or quality of life, with the exception of a significant negative association for organizational religiousness with quality of life at 12 months postpartum.


Our findings suggest that forgiveness, especially to self and to others, in women who have been physically and mentally hurt as children may be associated with mental wellness and quality of life in the late postpartum period. Further, our results point to the need to study specific religion and spirituality aspects in the context of specific populations and conditions instead of generally studying religion and spirituality as a common marker for coping.

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