Fathers’ Experiences of Maternal Depression in the Postnatal Period: Connecting With the Child in the Middle
thesisposted on 14.06.2012, 08:23 by Kristina Maria Keeley-Jones
The effects of maternal depression in the postnatal period are diverse and can lead to psychological distress within the family system. A systematic literature review examined the effects of maternal depression in the postnatal period on parental ratings of infant temperament, and the research report explored fathers’ experiences of their partner’s depression and concurrent father-child relationship development. The systematic literature review identified and evaluated quantitative research examining the relationship between maternal depression in the postnatal period and its influence on negative parental perceptions of infant temperament. Thirteen studies were reviewed, with twelve studies reporting significant results suggesting maternal depression increases negative parental perceptions of infant temperament. Few studies examined infant-to-parent effects thus limiting firm conclusions. Five studies examined treatment effects on perceptions of infant temperament presenting equivocal results. Conclusions were compromised due to various methodological limitations, including potential confounds of prenatal factors. The research study used a qualitative design with semi-structured interviews to explore five participants’ experiences of their partner’s maternal depression in the postnatal period and their developing relationships with their children. The data was analysed using Interpretative Psychological Analysis, and participants described their searching to understand their partner’s depression, frequently evidencing a negative impact on their own psychological well-being and their struggle to connect with their children. Participants described strengthened relationships with their partner and their child, although some reported the effects of the depression as lingering within the family. The findings were interpreted relating to previous research and relevant psychological theory, and suggestions for future research, the validity of the findings, and the clinical implications of the study were discussed. The researchers’ personal accounts, reflections and learning points relating to conducting the research are presented within the critical appraisal.