"Creating a safety net": Women's experiences of antenatal depression and their identification of helpful community support and services during pregnancy

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Journal Article
Midwifery, 2009, 25 (1), pp. 39 - 49
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Objective to explore the feelings of depression during pregnancy of a local sample of women living in an area of socio-economic deprivation, and to identify the support mechanisms that they report as personally or potentially helpful for antenatal depression. Design a retrospective study using a qualitative approach, informed by constructivism, to explore the participantsï½ individual experiences of depression during pregnancy. Data were collected via tape-recorded semi-structured interviews. Setting a socio-economically deprived area in North London, UK, identified as a Sure Start Local Programme providing local services specifically designed for socially disadvantaged families with children aged 0-4 years. Participants a self-selected sample of nine women aged 23-40 years, from a variety of ethnic backgrounds, who retrospectively admitted to feeling low or depressed during pregnancy. All the participants had had a baby more than 6 weeks previously and less than 1 year before the start of the study. Findings despite different cultural and ethnic backgrounds, the participants shared similar feelings of emotional isolation that seemed to contribute largely to their experience of antenatal depression. Partner support (or lack of it) seemed to be crucial to the women's psychological well-being during pregnancy. For some of these women, the research interview was the first opportunity to talk about their needs and feelings during pregnancy. Potentially helpful mechanisms for support were identified by the participants and were judged to be relatively simple to introduce, involving connecting with other women via peer support and having `somewhere to go' to meet others during pregnancy.
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