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The influence of women's perceived entitlement to have postnatal depression on the disclosure process

02 December 2015
Volume 23 · Issue 12


Studies showing the impact of maternal depression on the mother, infant and wider family have highlighted the importance of mothers feeling able and entitled to disclose postnatal depression (PND) and seek support from others. This paper reports a subset of findings from an interpretative phenomenological analysis of five women interviewed about their experiences of disclosing symptoms of postnatal depression. The findings extend the literature on in vitro fertilisation (IVF) and PND by identifying that perceived entitlement to have PND or seek support can influence the disclosure process. Entitlement appeared to be influenced by the women's own personal contextual factors, including financial status and lifestyles, having children who slept well, partner support and having successful IVF treatment. The findings have clinical implications for health professionals who have regular contact with women in the antenatal and postnatal periods by creating safe contexts to address their beliefs about PND, facilitating disclosure and implementing intervention more promptly.

Maternal postnatal depression (PND) has far-reaching consequences, with research identifying the potential impact of PND on the woman (Cooper and Murray, 1995), infant (O'Hara and McCabe, 2013), the woman's partner (Meighan et al, 1999; Boath et al, 2007) and the family unit (Boath et al, 2007). As disclosure is a prerequisite to accessing social support (Chaudoir and Fisher, 2010), this highlights the importance for women with PND to be aware that they are able and entitled to disclose their symptoms in a safe and trusting environment. There are three forms of support (Robertson et al, 2003):

Studies have consistently found a negative correlation between PND and a lack of emotional and instrumental support (Menaghann, 1990; Beck, 1996; Seguin et al, 1999; Webster et al, 2011). These two forms of support may require greater safety and trust to establish.

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