Can grandparents cause baby blues in moms?

Can grandparents cause baby blues in moms?

Being a new mom is already hard, but is living with grandparents causing mothers to have a higher rate of postpartum depression (PPD)?

A recent study from Duke University suggests married and single mothers suffer higher rates of depression when they live in multi-generational households in their baby’s first year of life. But for moms who live with their romantic partners but aren’t married, having one or more grandparents in the house is linked to lower rates of depression.

The pattern held true for rich, poor and middle class women. The findings varied by race, however, with Latina single mothers faring especially poorly in multi-generational households. Latina single moms were six times more likely to experience depression if they lived in multi-generational households in their child’s first year of life than if they did not.

“There’s a strong expectation that married couples will be economically self-sufficient,” said Joy Piontak, a research analyst with the Duke University Center for Child and Family Policy, in a news release. “Those are strong cultural values. So there could be a stronger sense of failure among married couples if they have to live with their parents.”

Still, Piontak cautioned that she can’t say for certain what causal relationship is at play. Living with grandparents may worsen depression for single and married mothers. Or, depressed single and married moms may be less likely to move out from a multi-generational household.

The study, which drew upon a nationally representative sample of nearly 3,000 married, single and cohabiting mothers, is unusual in its focus on multi-generational families. While single mothers have captured a great deal of scholarly and popular attention, three-generation households remain little-examined.

Yet such households are quite common. Some 7.8 million children, or 11 percent of all U.S. children, live in multi-generational households. These living arrangements are even more common among certain subgroups. For instance, nearly half of all children born to single mothers spend some time living with their grandparents, the study found.

No matter the living arrangements, be sure to know the signs and symptoms of PPD or commonly known as ‘baby blues’.  According to The Baby Center, PPD can begin any time during the first two months after a woman gives birth. Symptoms may include:

•Irritability or hypersensitivity

•Difficulty concentrating

•Anxiety and worry

•Crying or tearfulness


•Negative feelings such as sadness, hopelessness, helplessness, or guilt

•Loss of interest in activities you usually enjoy

•Difficulty sleeping (especially returning to sleep)

•Fatigue or exhaustion

•Changes in appetite or eating habits

•Headaches, stomachaches, muscle or backaches

Some women with PPD believe they can’t adequately care for their baby or may harm their baby.

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One Comment

  1. We lived with my in laws for about a year when looking for a new house (after relocating) and man was it depressing! Thankfully it wasn’t PPD but it certainly wasn’t easy or good to maintain a healthy marriage.

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health enews Staff
health enews Staff

health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Health Care and Aurora Health Care sites, which also includes freelance or intern writers.