UBC Community, Partners, and Alumni Publications

Enablers and barriers to seeking help for a postpartum mood disorder Foulkes, Michelle


Objective: To explore the barriers and enablers identified by women experiencing a postpartum mood disorder (PPMD) that both preclude and facilitate their help-seeking behaviours for this often devastating illness. Design: A qualitative study using a grounded theory approach Setting: Well-Baby Clinics offered through the Public Health Department, Early Years Centres, Mothercraft and a Parent Resource Centre in a large Canadian city. Participants: Ten women who had either been formally diagnosed as having a PPMD or who self-identified as experiencing a constellation of symptoms indicative of a PPMD Methods: Interviews that were transcribed verbatim and analyzed using a grounded theory approach as described by Strauss and Corbin (1998). Results: The core category of ‘Having postpartum’ captured the essence of women’s experiences in seeking help for a PPMD. Women identified four main stressors that contributed to their development of a PPMD, two barrier categories and an enabler category which influenced their help-seeking behaviours. Through navigation of both formal and informal help, women were able to begin the journey to reclaim the mothering soul they had lost to mental illness. Conclusions: Pregnancy, birth and becoming a mother collectively represent a critical period of physical and emotional upheaval in a woman’s life. The need for a holistic care approach that supports the emotional and physical health of the dyad is imperative.

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