Understanding and alleviating maternal postpartum distress: perspectives from first-time mothers in Australia

Law, Kwok Hong, Jackson, Ben, Guelfi, Kym, Nguyen, Thinh, and Dimmock, James Alexander (2018) Understanding and alleviating maternal postpartum distress: perspectives from first-time mothers in Australia. Social Science and Medicine, 204. pp. 59-66.

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Abstract

Background: Numerous factors have been shown to cause (or alleviate) maternal psychological distress in the early postpartum period, and a variety of interventions have been developed with the goal of preventing and/or managing such distress. However, only a few studies have explored new mothers' perspectives on the sources of their distress in the first six months' postpartum alongside the researchers’ recommendations for interventions to address those sources. Objectives: The aim of this work was to (a) identify factors associated with normative psychological distress in the first 6-months’ postpartum by healthy Australian first-time mothers, and (b) outline practical methods—rooted in those factors—deemed to be effective for preventing maternal psychological distress. Method: Semi-structured interviews with 32 first-time mothers and thematic content analysis. Results: Factors associated with maternal psychological distress emerged in relation to cognitive, behavioural, baby, and social factors. Mothers also indicated that interventions targeting reductions in psychological distress should include education—for mothers and significant others—prior to the postpartum period. These interventions should be delivered by credible information sources (e.g. other mothers, child-health nurses) and should focus on confidence-enhancement and social support provision. Conclusion: As well as reinforcing evidence regarding common postpartum stressors, this study revealed novel insight into issues associated with normative psychological distress for new mothers (e.g., self-compassion). Perhaps most significant was that mothers also identified a range of clear practical strategies for community-based intervention designs that target psychological distress. As a result, these findings provide guidelines for interventions aimed at reducing psychological distress in the early postpartum period for Australian mothers.

Item ID: 61545
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 0277-9536
Keywords: Australia, maternal, postpartum adjustment, qualitative, self-efficacy, stress
Copyright Information: © 2018 Elsevier Ltd
Date Deposited: 20 Feb 2020 05:13
FoR Codes: 11 MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES > 1117 Public Health and Health Services > 111714 Mental Health @ 50%
11 MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES > 1117 Public Health and Health Services > 111712 Health Promotion @ 50%
SEO Codes: 92 HEALTH > 9202 Health and Support Services > 920205 Health Education and Promotion @ 50%
92 HEALTH > 9204 Public Health (excl. Specific Population Health) > 920410 Mental Health @ 50%
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