“It is not all glowing and kale smoothies”: An exploration of mental health difficulties during pregnancy through women's voices

Alison Reddish, Lisa Golds, Angus MacBeth*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Objectives: This study aimed to explore the experiences of women with moderate-to-severe mental health difficulties during pregnancy, with a focus on establishing their psychological needs. Psychological distress caused by mental health difficulties during pregnancy is common and can significantly impact women and their babies. However, women's subjective experiences of difficulties with their mental health throughout pregnancy, alongside their experiences of staff, services and treatments are less well understood. Design: In this qualitative study, an Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) approach was used. Methods: Semi-structured interviews were conducted with participants recruited via a regional Perinatal Mental Health Service. Interviews were transcribed and analysed following the IPA methodology. Results: Five superordinate themes were identified which represented the lived experiences of the 11 participants on their journey through pregnancy whilst living with mental health difficulties and subsequent psychological distress: (i) Feeling the ‘wrong’ feelings, (ii) Societal pressures and a desire for greater acceptance, (iii) Searching for answers despite a lack of resources, (iv) What made a difference and (v) Experiences and expectations of service provision. Within these themes, 13 subordinate themes were also identified. Conclusions: These themes highlight the need for greater awareness and acceptance of mental health difficulties during pregnancy as well as postnatally. While perinatal mental health services are evolving, there is still an urgent requirement for services to continue to develop to meet women's needs, as well as to develop the role of clinicians as facilitators of engagement with needs-matched care. © 2024 The Authors. Psychology and Psychotherapy: Theory, Research and Practice published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of The British Psychological Society.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-21
JournalPsychology and Psychotherapy: Theory, Research and Practice
Early online date25 Apr 2024
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 25 Apr 2024

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • lived experience
  • mental health
  • perinatal
  • postnatal
  • pregnancy
  • qualitative

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