The prevalence and correlates of self-harm ideation trajectories in Australian women from pregnancy to 4-years postpartum Academic Article uri icon


  • Women in the perinatal period are at increased risk of experiencing self-harm ideation. The current study longitudinally examines the prevalence, trajectories, and correlates of self-harm ideation in a population-based sample of Australian women from pregnancy through to the early years of parenting.Drawing on data from 1507 women participating in a prospective pregnancy cohort study, data were collected during pregnancy, at 3-, 6-, 12-, and 18-months postpartum, and 4-years postpartum. Longitudinal Latent Class Analysis was conducted to identify groups of women based on their responses to thoughts of self-harm at each time-point. Logistic regression analysis was used to identify factors associated with group membership.Approximately 4-5% of women reported experiencing self-harm ideation at each time-point from pregnancy to 4-years postpartum. Cross-sectional analyses revealed that self-harm ideation was most frequently endorsed in the first 12-months postpartum (4.6%), and approximately 15% of women reported self-harm ideation at least once during the study period. Longitudinally, approximately 7% of women had an enduring pattern of self-harm ideation from pregnancy to 4-years postpartum. Women who had experienced a range of preconception and current social health issues and disadvantage were at increased risk of self-harm ideation over time.Limitations included use of brief measures, along with an underrepresentation of participants with particular socio-demographic characteristics.A proportion of women are at increased risk of experiencing self-harm ideation during the perinatal period and in the early years of parenting, underscoring the need for early identification during pregnancy and early postpartum to facilitate timely early intervention.


publication date

  • 2018