The Lived Experience of Perinatal Anxiety: A Longitudinal Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis

Folliard, Kelda (2023) The Lived Experience of Perinatal Anxiety: A Longitudinal Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis. Doctoral thesis, University of East Anglia.

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Background: Perinatal anxiety has deleterious effects on the fetus, newborn, infant, older child and mother, and is more commonly experienced yet less well investigated than perinatal depression. There is a paucity of qualitative evidence examining lived experience of anxiety over the continuum of pregnancy and the first year post-birth, which limits the ability of healthcare professionals to recognise and fully understand the condition and to provide appropriate care for women and birthing people.

Aims: This doctoral study aimed to address the lack of evidence, by exploring how women are impacted by perinatal anxiety to and gaining a rich understanding of their experiences. The findings inform recommendations for clinical practice, research and education.

Methods: A qualitative longitudinal design was chosen, using in-depth interviews and Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis to elicit a deeper understanding of perinatal anxiety. Five women were interviewed each at three timepoints: antenatal, early postnatal and late postnatal, producing 15 datasets.

Findings: Nine Group Experiential Themes were developed, underpinned by three Longitudinal Experiential Concepts which explicated the common threads of experience over time: Maternal Eyes, Transforming Existence and Emotional Kaleidoscope. The lived experience of perinatal anxiety has been revealed as socially constructed, with aspects of relationships with self, others, and the world key. The collision between anxiety and motherhood as social constructs provides perinatal anxiety with its unique characteristics.

Conclusion: Midwives and other healthcare professionals should understand the significance of anxiety as a potentially problematic and destructive psychological experience and provide space for women to discuss stigmatising and uncomfortable feelings without judgement. Further research examining whether screening tools used by midwives, health visitors and GPs identify the less immediately evident characteristics of perinatal anxiety, and effectively flag the need for intervention, is recommended. Education for clinicians to understand the significance of perinatal anxiety is essential.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences > School of Health Sciences
Depositing User: Chris White
Date Deposited: 27 Mar 2024 11:34
Last Modified: 27 Mar 2024 11:34


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