Systematic review of predictors of infant care competence among women with postpartum depression

Debbie Jones, Nicole Letourneau, Linda Duffett-Leger


Postpartum depression (PPD) is a serious illness that affects mothers worldwide. The symptoms of PPD such as low mood and fatigue undermine the quality of mothers’ interactions with their children, likely explaining the less than optimal development of children of mothers with PPD. In this way, PPD reduces mothers’ Infant Care Competence (ICC), that is, mothers’ perceived and performed infant caregiving ability. ICC is similar to other concepts such as maternal competence; however, ICC is specific in its focus on a mother’s perceptions of her infant care abilities. Knowledge of predictors of ICC in the context of PPD would inform interventions for mothers with PPD to increase maternal caregiving quality, preventing negative long-term effects on children’s development. Thus, an integrative systematic review was completed to determine predictors of ICC (both performed and perceived abilities) in the context of PPD. Six electronic databases were searched (MEDLINE, PubMed, PsycINFO, Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature [CINAHL], SocINDEX, and the Cochrane Library) for relevant studies that met search criteria. Twenty-one eligible articles were obtained. Results revealed variables that explained ICC in the context of maternal PPD including: depression severity and timing of depressive symptoms, social support, maternal adversities, infant characteristics, as well as demographic variables such as education and income. Overall, this review provides insight into common explanatory variables of ICC that could be used to target interventions in the postpartum period to promote maternal caregiving abilities, and ultimately children’s development and health in the context of PPD.

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Journal of Nursing Education and Practice

ISSN 1925-4040 (Print)   ISSN 1925-4059 (Online)

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