Details of Publication 517 for Project W066:

Chojenta C, Loxton D & Lucke J. 'The Perfect Mother Wouldn’t Have That’: Australian Women’s Experiences of Motherhood and Postnatal Depression. Archives of Women's Mental Health (PUBLISHED ABSTRACT), 2011; 14(Supp 1): S62-S63

Objective: The experience of diagnosis and treatment of PND is under-researched, and is an area currently being reviewed and changed at policy and clinical levels in Australia. A detailed investigation into the thoughts, feelings and experiences of women with PND is therefore timely, in order to understand the underlying factors thatinfluence the development of PND and the efficacy of treatment for PND.Method: In-depth semi structured telephone interviews were conducted with a subsample (n=40) of women who participate in the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women’s Health (ALSWH). The ALSWH is a multi-disciplinary, nation-wide survey of the health, wellbeing and lifestyle of women that has been collecting mailed survey data since 1996. Participants in the current study were asked to elaborate on their experiences of pregnancy, childbirth and early motherhood, and in particular theiremotions during these times. The researchers utilized previous ALSWH survey data when drawing the interview sample and selected both women who had and had not been previously diagnosed with PND.Results: Those participants who had been diagnosed with PND described a limited range of treatment options and support mechanisms available to them after their diagnosis. Many also described the guilt and shame associated with a diagnosis of PND, and the feelings associated with divulging this information to other people. Manywomen (both those with and without PND) also described problems with coping in early motherhood, and particularly highlighted stresses associated with breastfeeding. Facilitators and barriers to treatment access and treatment efficacy were also discussed.Conclusion: The narratives collected in this project highlight that PND is occurring in the context of many stressful events. In addition, the findings suggest that the accessibility and availability of treatment options in Australia has been limited.