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Postpartum women’s psychological experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic: a modified recurrent cross-sectional thematic analysis

Jackson, L, De Pascalis, L, Harrold, JA, Fallon, V and Silverio, SA (2021) Postpartum women’s psychological experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic: a modified recurrent cross-sectional thematic analysis. BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth, 21 (1). ISSN 1471-2393

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Open Access URL: https://doi.org/10.1186/s12884-021-04071-2 (Published version)


Background: COVID-19 has placed additional stressors on mothers during an already vulnerable lifecourse transition. Initial social distancing restrictions (Timepoint 1; T1) and initial changes to those social distancing restrictions (Timepoint 2; T2) have disrupted postpartum access to practical and emotional support. This qualitative study explores the postpartum psychological experiences of UK women during different phases of the COVID-19 pandemic and associated ‘lockdowns’. Methods: Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 12 women, approximately 30 days after initial social distancing guidelines were imposed in the UK (22 April 2020). A separate 12 women were interviewed approximately 30 days after the initial easing of social distancing restrictions (10 June 2020). Data were transcribed verbatim, uploaded into NVivo for management and analysis, which followed a recurrent cross-sectional approach to thematic analysis. Results: Two main themes were identified for T1: ‘Motherhood is Much Like Lockdown’ and ‘A Self-Contained Family Unit’. Each main T1 theme contained two sub-themes. Two main themes were also identified for T2: ‘Incongruously Held Views of COVID-19’ and ‘Mothering Amidst the Pandemic’. Each main T2 theme contained three sub-themes. Comparisons between data gathered at each timepoint identified increased emotional distress over time. Current findings call for the improvement of postpartum care by improving accessibility to social support, and prioritising the re-opening of schools, and face-to-face healthcare appointments and visitation. Conclusion: Social distancing restrictions associated with COVID-19 have had a cumulative, negative effect on postpartum mental health. Recommendations such as: Allowing mothers to ‘bubble’ with a primary support provider even at their healthcare appointments; allowing one support partner to attend all necessary healthcare appointments; and providing tailored informational resources, may help to support postpartum emotional wellbeing during this, and similar health crises in the future.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Humans; Postnatal Care; Cross-Sectional Studies; Mothers; Mental Health Services; Communicable Disease Control; Postpartum Period; Qualitative Research; Social Support; Adult; Female; Interviews as Topic; Burnout, Psychological; Psychological Distress; COVID-19; Burnout, psychological; COVID-19; Mental health services; Postnatal care; Psychological distress; Psychosocial support systems; Adult; Burnout, Psychological; COVID-19; Communicable Disease Control; Cross-Sectional Studies; Female; Humans; Interviews as Topic; Mental Health Services; Mothers; Postnatal Care; Postpartum Period; Psychological Distress; Qualitative Research; Social Support; 1110 Nursing; 1114 Paediatrics and Reproductive Medicine; 1117 Public Health and Health Services; Obstetrics & Reproductive Medicine
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine > RA0421 Public health. Hygiene. Preventive Medicine
R Medicine > RG Gynecology and obstetrics
Divisions: Psychology (from Sep 2019)
Publisher: BMC
SWORD Depositor: A Symplectic
Date Deposited: 06 Dec 2022 11:34
Last Modified: 06 Dec 2022 11:34
DOI or ID number: 10.1186/s12884-021-04071-2
URI: https://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/18300
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