Document Type


Date of Degree Completion

Spring 2023

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Family and Consumer Sciences

Committee Chair

Dr. Amy Claridge

Second Committee Member

Dr. Tishra Beeson

Third Committee Member

Dr. Sarah Feeney


The COVID-19 pandemic dramatically influenced women’s experience of pregnancy, labor, and the postpartum phase. New research shows rates of postpartum depression were higher than typical during the pandemic. This study expands on existing research by examining postpartum depression at 12-30 months postpartum and exploring the role of perceptions of access to social support in predicting depressive symptoms.

This survey assessed postpartum women’s perceptions of the availability of supports during the COVID-19 pandemic and whether access to support was associated with experiences of postpartum depression 12-30 months after birth. In total, 242 participants responded to an online survey including the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale and a researcher-developed measure of access to social support.

Results revealed lower household income and experiences of intimate partner violence (IPV) were correlated with women’s reports of postpartum depressive symptoms. Additionally, women’s perceived access to friends and family supports was associated with reports of fewer postpartum depressive symptoms, even when controlling for income and IPV. In addition to reinforcing the necessity of social supports for women before and after birth, this study also adds to the growing research about persistent postpartum depression by evaluating women beyond the traditional 12-month postpartum period. Similarly, the study highlights the importance of continued assessment of exposure to intimate partner violence throughout the postpartum period. In this study women from lower income households reported less access to supports and more depressive symptoms. Therefore, it is important to ensure all women have access to supports to buffer risks associated with postpartum depression. Limitations and implications for practice are discussed.

Available for download on Friday, June 20, 2025