Women’s mental health following the birth of a child: a life course approach
Ann Kingsbury - PhD Thesis Review milestone presentation
The perinatal period poses a unique time for a woman. From this perspective, it was hypothesized that adverse experiences/circumstances in the perinatal period act as catalysts for mental health consequences immediately or later in a woman’s life. The project’s aim was to determine whether having a child was associated with changes in a woman’s mental health over her life course and to identify factors likely to predict poor mental health. Environmental aspects of the mothering experience which had the greatest potential to adversely affect women’s mental health were examined. This project adds to the existing body of knowledge that relates to women’ mental health, in particular describing influences on women’s mental health over her reproductive life-course. In this review I describe socio-demographic characteristics and lifestyle behaviours of two samples of pregnant women thirty years apart. As well other findings will be presented including, having a sick infant (but not common adverse birth outcomes) can have mental health consequences for a woman; of social adversity in pregnancy impacting the trajectory of maternal depressive symptoms over time; and the suggestion that depressive symptoms experienced by a small group of women following baby’s birth could continue, and escalate, over time. Project findings may help inform future health-planning. This presentation is the final review of the project and will summarize its progress to date and outline its expected conclusions.
Ann Kingsbury is a PhD student at The University of Queensland's School of Public Health and has a background in nursing, midwifery and drugs-in-pregnancy counselling and project management. She received her Master of Tropical Health from UQ in 1994. Her research interests relate to women’s mental health and perinatal substance use.