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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Out of the darkness and into the light : Women’s experiences with depression after childbirth Berggren-Clive, Kathy Lyn


While becoming a mother can be a fulfilling and joyful experience, 10-28% of women can be affected by an intense emotional response commonly called postpartum depression. This phenomenon is distinguishable from the "transitory baby blues" and is often characterized by crying, confusion, fatigue, depression, insomnia, difficulty caring for the baby and self and suicidal thoughts. Research on postpartum depression has largely concentrated on investigating its possible causes and predictors utilizing quantitative methodology. Women are the experts of their own lives yet, their voices with respect to the existing body of knowledge about depression after childbirth are missing. In this exploratory qualitative study, I utilized a feminist perspective and interviewed eight women who had recovered from postpartum depression, thus allowing them to define the nature of their experiences. A three-stage model emerged that demonstrated how women made sense of that time in their lives. Why did this Happen?, the first stage, represented women's attempts to determine why they had postpartum depression. The second stage, Spiralling Downward, focused on how the depression entered their lives and enveloped them in darkness. Getting to the Other Side, the third stage, addressed the process of their recovery. The findings of this study provides a contextual picture of women's experiences with depression after childbirth and the knowledge created has important implications for the practice of professionals and the implementation of policy and programs that meet the needs of new mothers and their families.

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