The HAPPY study is a large prospective longitudinal cohort study in which pregnant women (N ≈ 2,500) are followed during the entire pregnancy and the whole first year postpartum. The study collects a substantial amount of psychological and physiological data investigating all kinds of determinants that might interfere with general well-being during pregnancy and postpartum, with special attention to the effect of maternal mood, pregnancy-related somatic symptoms (including nausea and vomiting (NVP) and carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) symptoms), thyroid function, and human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) on pregnancy outcome of mother and foetus.
During pregnancy, participants receive questionnaires at 12, 22 and 32 weeks of gestation. Apart from a previous obstetric history, demographic features, distress symptoms, and pregnancy-related somatic symptoms are assessed. Furthermore, obstetrical data of the obstetric record form and ultrasound data are collected during pregnancy. At 12 and 30 weeks, thyroid function is assessed by blood analysis of thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH), free thyroxine (FT4) and thyroid peroxidase antibodies (TPO-Ab), as well as HCG. Also, depression is assessed with special focus on the two key symptoms: depressed mood and anhedonia. After childbirth, cord blood, neonatal heel screening results and all obstetrical data with regard to start of labour, mode of delivery and complications are collected. Moreover, mothers receive questionnaires at one week, six weeks, four, eight, and twelve months postpartum, to investigate recovery after pregnancy and delivery, including postpartum mood changes, emotional distress, feeding and development of the newborn.
The key strength of this large prospective cohort study is the holistic (multifactorial) approach on perinatal well-being combined with a longitudinal design with measurements during all trimesters of pregnancy and the whole first year postpartum, taking into account two physiological possible markers of complaints and symptoms throughout gestation: thyroid function and HCG. The HAPPY study is among the first to investigate within one design physiological and psychological aspects of NVP and CTS symptoms during pregnancy. Finally, the concept of anhedonia and depressed mood as two distinct aspects of depression and its possible relation on obstetric outcome, breastfeeding, and postpartum well-being will be studied.
Pregnancy – Maternal well-being – Trimester specific symptoms – Distress – Depression – Thyroid function – Delivery – Childbirth – Postpartum – Breastfeeding