Women’s mental health during pregnancy: A participatory qualitative study

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Background/objectives: British public health and academic policy and guidance promotes service user involvement in health care and research, however collaborative research remains underrepresented in literature relating to pregnant women’s mental health. The aim of this participatory research was to explore mothers’ and professionals’ perspectives on the factors that influence pregnant women’s mental health.

Method: This qualitative research was undertaken in England with the involvement of three community members who had firsthand experience of mental health problems during pregnancy. All members of the team were involved in study design, recruitment, data generation and different stages of thematic analysis. Data were transcribed for individual and group discussions with 17 women who self-identified as experiencing mental health problems during pregnancy and 15 professionals who work with this group. Means of establishing trustworthiness included triangulation, researcher reflexivity, peer debriefing and comprehensive data analysis.

Findings: Significant areas of commonality were identified between mothers’ and professionals’ perspectives on factors that undermine women’s mental health during pregnancy and what is needed to support women’s mental health. Analysis of data is provided with particular reference to contexts of relational, systemic and ecological conditions in women’s lives.

Conclusions: Women’s mental health is predominantly undermined or supported by relational, experiential and material factors. The local context of socio-economic deprivation is a significant influence on women’s mental health and service requirements.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e179-e187
Number of pages9
JournalWomen and Birth
Issue number4
Early online date2 Jan 2017
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2017


  • Pregnancy
  • participatory research
  • women’s mental health
  • qualitative interviews
  • socioeconomic deprivation

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