"In the United States, most working women are back to work soon after giving birth, with the majority not taking more than three months of leave," study leader Dr. Rada Dagher said in a university news release.
"But our study showed that women who return to work sooner than six months after childbirth have an increased risk of postpartum depressive symptoms," added Dagher, an assistant professor of health services administration at the School of Public Health.
In the year after giving birth, about 13 percent of mothers experience postpartum depression, which can cause serious symptoms similar to clinical depression.
This study included more than 800 women in Minnesota who were followed for a year after they gave birth. About 7 percent of the mothers went back to work within six weeks, 46 percent by 12 weeks, and 87 percent by six months.
Women who were still on maternity leave at each of those time points had lower postpartum depression scores than those who had returned to work, according to the findings published online Dec. 4 in the Journal of Health Politics, Policy and Law.
Can Having a Longer Maternity Leave Prevent Postpartum Depression?
How long will your maternity leave be? Do you feel like it will be long enough or do you wish you could take longer?