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Stellenbosch University

1. Du Toit, Simone. The experience of postpartum distress in the transition to motherhood: A study of one group of low-income mothers in South Africa.

Degree: MA, Psychology, 2017, Stellenbosch University

ENGLISH SUMMARY: The aim of this study was to explore a group of low-income South African mothers’ experience of maternal distress during the transition to motherhood. Research on mental illness in motherhood has largely focused on investigating the aetiology, prevalence rates and implications of thereof within a positivist framework. There is a dearth of studies in South Africa that has examined the lived experiences of maternal distress despite the need for a thorough and rigorous investigation of these issues from the perspective of the individual. This is especially important in South Africa, where understanding of the lived experiences of maternal distress is the first step in conceptualizing a more efficient approach to identifying and addressing postpartum distress in the resource-restricted, overburdened South African healthcare system. The present study used data from a larger research project entitled the Women’s Mental Health Research Project (WMHRP). The sample comprised of 11 low-income mothers who can be characterized as suffering from postpartum depression (given their scores on self-report measures). The longitudinal dimensions of the study enabled narrative trajectories to be collected and strategic construction and presentation of narratives to be explored. A grounded theory approach guided this study in which data was collected from interview transcriptions that were collected during the parent study. Data analysis followed the principles outlined by the social constructionist grounded theory methodology including the constant comparative method and a sequential process of open, axial, and selective coding of the data. Throughout the duration of the study, specific processes were carried out to ensure trustworthiness of the research findings. A social constructionist epistemological analytic approach, aligned with a feminist theoretical lens was used to analyse the findings. Seven superordinate categories emerged from the interviews: the mothers, the expectations and reality of motherhood, caregiving overload, dysfunctional interpersonal relationships, mothering in poverty, the physical body and motherhood and silencing of the self. These categories demonstrate how unprepared for motherhood the women were and how their expectations were based on the dominant ideology of motherhood. Overwhelmed, fatigued, ambivalent and unable to make sense of their experiences, the women continued to suffer in silence in a context of depleting resources and the loss of their former life, wellbeing and sense of self. This study has demonstrated that the experience of maternal distress is deeply embedded in the cultural context within which it occurs. The ways in which women make sense of their experience has been created and sustained through powerful institutions that serve to pathologize women who do not adhere to the dominant ideology of motherhood. These findings are supported by the broader literature on maternal distress. However, this study adds to the literature by identifying motherhood as a gendered… Advisors/Committee Members: Kruger, Lou-Marie, Stellenbosch University. Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. Dept. of Psychology..

Subjects/Keywords: Maternal distress; Motherhood; Mental illness in pregnancy; Postpartum depression; Low-income mothers  – South Africa; UCTD

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APA · Chicago · MLA · Vancouver · CSE | Export to Zotero / EndNote / Reference Manager

APA (6th Edition):

Du Toit, S. (2017). The experience of postpartum distress in the transition to motherhood: A study of one group of low-income mothers in South Africa. (Masters Thesis). Stellenbosch University. Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/102817

Chicago Manual of Style (16th Edition):

Du Toit, Simone. “The experience of postpartum distress in the transition to motherhood: A study of one group of low-income mothers in South Africa.” 2017. Masters Thesis, Stellenbosch University. Accessed April 21, 2018. http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/102817.

MLA Handbook (7th Edition):

Du Toit, Simone. “The experience of postpartum distress in the transition to motherhood: A study of one group of low-income mothers in South Africa.” 2017. Web. 21 Apr 2018.

Vancouver:

Du Toit S. The experience of postpartum distress in the transition to motherhood: A study of one group of low-income mothers in South Africa. [Internet] [Masters thesis]. Stellenbosch University; 2017. [cited 2018 Apr 21]. Available from: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/102817.

Council of Science Editors:

Du Toit S. The experience of postpartum distress in the transition to motherhood: A study of one group of low-income mothers in South Africa. [Masters Thesis]. Stellenbosch University; 2017. Available from: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/102817

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