Issues in mental health nursing

A qualitative meta-synthesis and theory of postpartum depression.

PMID 25162187


To synthesize existing qualitative literature on the first-hand experiences of women suffering from postpartum depression (PPD), to uncover potential common themes, a meta-synthesis of 12 qualitative studies using Noblit and Hare's 7-phase model of meta-ethnography was used. Four themes were discovered: crushed maternal role expectation, going into hiding, loss of sense of self, intense feelings of vulnerability, plus practical life concerns. A preliminary theory of PPD as a 4-step process is proposed, based on the relationships between the themes in this meta-synthesis. This 4-step process is compared and contrasted with Cheryl Tatano Beck's 4-stage theory of PPD "Teetering on the Edge". This meta-synthesis and theory offers a significant contribution to the literature in helping identify PPD distinctly from depression outside of the postpartum period, and deserves further study.