Postpartum emotional support: A qualitative study of women's and men's anticipated needs and preferred sources

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Australian health policy emphasises prevention, early intervention and improved pathways to treatment for perinatal mental disorders. Primary care is vital to achieving these aims. The aim of this study was to understand the anticipated needs and preferred sources of mental health information and support of men and women expecting their first baby. Nulliparous English-speaking expectant parents attending childbirth education programs in public and private hospitals participated in single sex small group discussions in late pregnancy. Discussions were audio-recorded, transcribed and analysed thematically using the group as the unit of analysis. Eight groups (22 women; 16 men) encompassing diverse socioeconomic circumstances were conducted. Analyses showed idealised fantasies consistently tempered with realistic expectations about adjustment to life with a baby. However, there were diverse and gendered views about whether primary care providers should discuss mental health with parents of infants and willingness to complete written questionnaires or be referred for specialist mental health care. Men regard primary family care as mother not father inclusive. Expectant parents readily anticipate realistic postnatal adjustment and need for emotional support. Increased provision of services that meet men?s needs and public understanding and acceptance of Australian integrated models of primary postnatal mental health care are needed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)46 - 52
Number of pages7
JournalAustralian Journal of Primary Health
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2013

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