While several studies have investigated how stress-related situations affect cortisol levels, few studies have examined the relationship between cortisol levels and psychological measures related to postpartum psychological status. This study investigated the relationship between salivary cortisol and postpartum psychological status and bonding attachment. This study is a cross-sectional study. Participants were recruited at the 1-month postpartum checkup and included 70 consenting mothers at 1 month postpartum. Salivary cortisol levels, profile of mood states (POMS), general health questionnaire (GHQ), maternal anxiety screening scale (MASS), and mother-infant bonding scale (MIBS) were measured for association. Salivary cortisol levels were significantly associated with scores on the GHQ; depression dimension of POMS; childbirth satisfaction, child-rearing ease, confidant, and lack of confidence subscales of MASS; and MIBS (r=.369 P=.002). There were particularly strong associations with GHQ (r=.427 P=.000), childbirth satisfaction subscale of MASS (r=-.412 P=.000), and MIBS (r=.369 P=.002) scores. The measurement of maternal salivary cortisol at one month postpartum could be a method to screen mothers for postpartum depression. However, it should be taken into account that salivary cortisol levels may reflect factors other than psychological state, and further investigation of related factors is necessary.
Key words: Postpartum depression, stress, anxiety, cortisol.
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