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Background: Systematic reviews have established that partner support protects against perinatal mood problems. It is therefore a key target for interventions designed to prevent maternal and paternal depression and anxiety. Nonetheless, the extant literature is yet to be translated into specific actions that parents can implement. Prevention efforts aiming to facilitate reciprocal partner support within the couple dyad need to provide specific guidance on how partners can support one another to reduce their vulnerability to perinatal depression and anxiety. Method: Two panels of experts in perinatal mental health (21 consumer advocates and 39 professionals) participated in a Delphi consensus study to establish how partners can support one another to reduce their risk of developing depression and anxiety during pregnancy and the postpartum period. Results: A total of 214 recommendations on how partners can support each other were endorsed by at least 80 % of both panels as important or essential in reducing the risk of perinatal depression and anxiety. The recommendations were grouped under the following categories: becoming a parent, supporting each other through pregnancy and childbirth, communication, conflict, division of labor, practical support, emotional support, emotional closeness, sexual satisfaction, using alcohol and drugs, encouraging self-care, developing acceptance, and help-seeking. Conclusion: This study established consensus between consumers and professionals in order to produce a set of guidelines on how partners can support each other to prevent depression and anxiety during pregnancy and following childbirth. It is hoped that these guidelines will inform the development of perinatal depression and anxiety prevention efforts.

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Open Access Journal Article

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Open Access


© 2016 Pilkington et al. Open Access This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.