This longitudinal study explores the relationship of postpartum depression (PPD) and marital dysfunction on infant outcomes from birth to 2 1/2 years of age among middle-class, postpartum women. Participants were recruited during the prenatal period. Twelve mothers completed the study
throughout a 2 1/2-year period. Questionnaires, semistructured interviews, and observations were used to collect data. Content analysis of the interviews (Morse & Field, 1995) was conducted and thematic patterns were identified. Clinical PPD and marital dysfunction (defined as little or
no support or closeness, or verbal, emotional or physical abuse) characterized nearly one in three mothers. Four themes describing the women's postpartum progression were identified: stress, isolation, resentment, and eventual adjustment by creating a new normal. No major developmental delays
or behavioral problems were found among the infants. Eight of the 12 mothers who were initially identified as breastfeeding nursed their infants for 6–18 months. Regardless of financial and educational advantages, mothers in the study experienced depression and marital dysfunction. These
findings support other studies that confirm the lack of association of PPD with social class or marital status. Childbirth educators and other health care professionals are encouraged to continue providing expectant families with anticipatory education and community resources in order to increase
awareness of mental health and marital risks during the postpartum transition.
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Document Type: Standard Article
GAYLE ROUX is an assistant professor in the Maternal Child Nursing Department of the School of Nursing at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia. She is also a nurse researcher in the VCU Building
Interdisciplinary Research Careers in Women's Health Scholars program.
CHERYL ANDERSON is an assistant professor in the School of Nursing at the University of Texas at Arlington. She is also an advanced nurse practitioner in maternal child health.
October 1, 2002
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