"Feeling low and feeling really bad about feeling low": Women's experiences of motherhood and postpartum depression

N S Mauthner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

71 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Two bodies of work on postpartum depression are reviewed. Quantitative, positivist studies examine the epidemiology and aetiology of postpartum depression, adopt a medical model of explanation and conceptualize postpartum depression as a pathological response to motherhood. Social scientific studies, some from a feminist perspective, explore women's experiences of postpartum depression predominantly, but not exclusively, within a qualitative tradition. Postpartum depression is theorized as a "normal" response to motherhood and is linked to "public-world" losses of identity, autonomy, independence, power, and paid employment. Drawing on a qualitative study of 40 women's experiences of motherhood, this article argues that not ail women become depressed following childbirth and women's varying responses to motherhood need to be recognized; A relational re-framing of postpartum depression is put forward. From this perspective, postpartum depression occurs when women are unable to experience, express and validate their feelings and needs within supportive, accepting and non-judgmental interpersonal relationships and cultural contexts.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)143-161
Number of pages19
JournalCanadian Psychology
Volume40
Publication statusPublished - 1999

Keywords

  • POSTNATAL DEPRESSION
  • PUERPERAL DEPRESSION
  • SOCIAL CONTACTS
  • HELP
  • PERSPECTIVES
  • CRITIQUE

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