Mothers' experiences of postpartum psychosis and negative emotions during breastfeeding

Watkinson, Marcelina and Simpson, Jane (2015) Mothers' experiences of postpartum psychosis and negative emotions during breastfeeding. PhD thesis, Lancaster University.

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Objectives: Maternal health and well-being has been studied widely from the angle of postpartum depression and practical aspects of infant feeding. However, two kinds of difficulties, postpartum psychosis (PPP) and negative emotions experienced during breastfeeding, have received significantly less attention in the perinatal research field. Consequently, clinical guidelines and available support are limited for mothers with such experiences. Therefore the main objective of this thesis was to explore how experiences of PPP and negative emotions during breastfeeding influence the way mothers view themselves and their relationships, in order to identify recommendations for clinical practice.Method: A systematic literature review of 10 studies on PPP and an empirical qualitative study of 11 mothers experiencing negative emotions during breastfeeding were undertaken. Findings: Across both studies, themes captured how mothers’ negative experiences influenced the way they viewed themselves, their relationships with others and how they navigated the mother-child bond and breastfeeding. Mothers also felt disappointed with professionals’ lack of knowledge and understanding of their experiences. However, gaining insight into their own difficulties alleviated mothers’ distress and enabled them to develop and employ various coping strategies, such as seeking peer support. Discussion: Discussion of findings highlighted that the psychological nature of difficulties associated with PPP and breastfeeding problems is often given a secondary priority. In contrast, mothers experienced that relationships with others and increased understanding of their experiences was essential to their ability to cope and recover. In light of mothers’ disappointment with the care they received, clinical recommendations highlighted the importance of training and raising awareness about less common difficulties that mothers may experience in the perinatal period, which may affect how they feel about themselves and consequently, how well they adapt to the mothering role.

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Thesis (PhD)
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Deposited On:
01 Dec 2015 11:56
Last Modified:
28 Nov 2023 10:52