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BACKGROUND: This study examined the association between disrespect and abuse of women during facility-based childbirth and postpartum depression (PD) occurrence. METHODS: We used data from the 2015 Pelotas (Brazil) Birth Cohort, a population-based cohort of all live births in the city. We assessed 3065 mothers at pregnancy and 3-months after birth. Self-reported disrespect and abuse experiences included physical abuse, verbal abuse, denial of care, and undesired procedures. We estimate the occurrence of each disrespect and abuse type, one or more types and disrespect and abuse score. The Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS) was used to assess PD. EPDS scores ≥13 and ≥15 indicated at least moderate PD and marked/severe. Odds ratios (OR) were calculated by logistic regression. RESULTS: The prevalence of at least moderate PD and marked/severe PD was 9.4% and 5.7%, respectively. 18% of the women experienced at least one type of disrespect and abuse. Verbal abuse increased the odds of having at least moderate PD (OR = 1.58; 95%CI 1.06-2.33) and marked/severe PD (OR = 1.69; 95%CI 1.06-2.70) and the effect among women who did not experience antenatal depressive symptoms was greater in comparison to those who did (OR = 2.51; 95%CI 1.26-5.04 and OR = 4.27; 95%CI 1.80-10.12). Physical abuse increased the odds of having marked/severe PD (OR = 2.28; 95%CI 1.26-4.12). Having experienced three or more mistreatment types increased the odds of at least moderate PD (OR = 2.90; 95%CI 1.30 - 35.74) and marked/severe PD (OR=3.86; 95%CI 1.58-9.42). LIMITATIONS: Disrespect and abuse experiences during childbirth were self-reported. CONCLUSIONS: Disrespect and abuse during childbirth increased the odds of PD three months after birth. Strategies to promote high quality and respectful maternal health care are needed to prevent mother-child adverse outcomes.

Original publication




Journal article


J Affect Disord

Publication Date





441 - 447


Childbirth, Disrespect and abuse, Gender violence, Institutional violence, Postpartum depression