Expectations of motherhood: a qualitative investigation.
D Clin Psy thesis, University of Glasgow.
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Purpose: Women’s experiences of depression following childbirth have received increased attention within the research base over the past two decades. However, depression that occurs during pregnancy, or antenatal depression, remains poorly understood and often unrecognised. The aim of the present study was to explore women’s experiences of pregnancy and antenatal depression in order to construct a psychological understanding of antenatal depression.
Method: Nine women who had, or currently, experienced depression during pregnancy were interviewed. The interviews were transcribed verbatim and the data was analysed using a social constructionist grounded theory approach.
Findings: An over-arching theory emerged of antenatal depression as an interpersonal, transactional process, which was reflected in the themes, including ‘the construction of meaning – developing an understanding of antenatal depression’, ‘recognising and managing transitions’, ‘the interpersonal environment’ and ‘reflections on the past and hopes for the future’. Contradictions, struggles and unresolved aspects of experiences within the women’s narratives highlighted the complex interpersonal processes negotiated by participants, who suffered from antenatal depression.
Conclusion: The importance of an individual’s interpersonal world in shaping experiences is emphasised. In light of the findings, psychotherapeutic implications are discussed.
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