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Connections lost and sought: An interpretative phenomenological analysis study of women’s experiences of perinatal anxiety within the Covid-19 pandemic

Miller, M. E. (2022). Connections lost and sought: An interpretative phenomenological analysis study of women’s experiences of perinatal anxiety within the Covid-19 pandemic. (Unpublished Doctoral thesis, City, University of London)

Abstract

The perinatal period, which spans from pregnancy to one year after childbirth, is a time in which a significant number of women experience mood and anxiety-related difficulties. Despite anxiety affecting approximately 21% of perinatal women, research has emphasised examining perinatal depression, with a limited focus on anxiety. Perinatal mental health disorders are a public health concern due to deleterious effects on maternal and child outcomes and social and economic impact, if left untreated. This qualitative study explores experiences of perinatal anxiety within the Covid-19 pandemic, in women with a pre-exiting history of anxiety and those without a pre-existing history of anxiety. An Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis approach was employed, incorporating a multiperspectival cross-group design to gain insight into the lived experience of the single phenomenon of perinatal anxiety, across two subgroups. Semi-structured interviews were carried out online during the pandemic, with eleven female participants, all of whom were first-time mothers and had experienced anxiety in the perinatal timeframe. Transcribed interviews were analysed using IPA protocol and updated terminology was incorporated (Smith, Flowers & Larkin, 2022). Four Group Experiential Themes emerged within each group and two Group Experiential Themes emerged from cross-group analysis: ‘Loss of connection’ and ‘Being under-resourced’. Loss of connection to others revealed a deficit of coping resources in each group, which differed in significance between the groups and elucidated differences in perinatal anxiety between women with and without a pre-existing history of anxiety. These findings are discussed in relation to theories of emotion regulation and matrescene. Implications for counselling psychology are considered.

Publication Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Psychology
School of Health & Psychological Sciences > School of Health & Psychological Sciences Doctoral Theses
Doctoral Theses
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