How do new/recent mothers experience unwanted harm thoughts related to their newborn? A thematic analysis

Article


Boyd, C. and Gannon, K. 2019. How do new/recent mothers experience unwanted harm thoughts related to their newborn? A thematic analysis. Journal of Reproductive and Infant Psychology.
AuthorsBoyd, C. and Gannon, K.
Abstract

Objective: The aim of this qualitative research study was to explore how new/recent mothers experience infant-related harm thoughts (IRHTs).
Background: New/recent mothers’ experiences of intrusive, infant-related harm thoughts remain a taboo topic, yet several studies indicate such thoughts are common. Understanding the normal experience of such thoughts is needed to improve the postpartum experiences of mothers, and clinical practice. The aim was to elicit a fuller, critical understanding of the experience of harm thoughts in a mixed, non-clinical sample, exploring how they are understood, managed and shared by women.
Methods: Semi-structured interviews were conducted with eight new/recent mothers who had experienced IRHTs related to their youngest child, born within the last two years. Data were analysed with Thematic Analysis.
Findings: The results yielded three core themes: Heightened emotions; Constructions of motherhood and maternal identity; Costs and benefits of sharing.
Conclusion: Findings corroborate previous literature showing that IRHTs commonly occur among non-clinical postpartum mothers, highlighting their intense emotional impact, and barriers to women reporting them due to stigma. Results also highlighted ways in which the pervasive ideology of motherhood informed mothers’ meaning-making of IRHTs. Some pathologised their IRHTs in order to maintain their ‘good’ mother identity. However, others reconfigured their maternal identity in response to IRHTs, through a constructive process of self-development. Recommendations include discussing the ideology of motherhood with pregnant women and partners and facilitating open, normalising discussion of IRHTs.

KeywordsIntrusive thoughts; harm thoughts; postpartum mental health; postnatal; perinatal
JournalJournal of Reproductive and Infant Psychology
ISSN0264-6838
Year2019
PublisherTaylor & Francis for Society for Reproductive and Infant Psychology
Accepted author manuscript
License
File Access Level
Anyone
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)doi:10.1080/02646838.2019.1657819
Web address (URL)https://doi.org/10.1080/02646838.2019.1657819
Publication dates
Online26 Sep 2019
Publication process dates
Accepted13 Aug 2019
Deposited02 Oct 2019
Copyright holder© 2019 Taylor & Francis
Copyright informationThis is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Journal of Reproductive and Infant Psychology on 26/09/2019, available online: http://www.tandfonline.com/10.1080/02646838.2019.1657819.
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Accepted author manuscript

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