• experiences;
  • first-time Chinese mothers;
  • mainland China;
  • midwifery;
  • postpartum depression

gao l.-l., chan s.w.-c., you l. & li x. (2010) Experiences of postpartum depression among first-time mothers in mainland China. Journal of Advanced Nursing 66(2), 303–312.


Title. Experiences of postpartum depression among first-time mothers in mainland China.

Aim.  This paper is a report of a study conducted to describe the experience of postpartum depression among first-time mothers in mainland China.

Background.  Postpartum depression affects approximately 10–20% of women across many different cultural settings; however, most theories of this condition have been developed in Western societies. Transcultural studies may enhance the understanding of the sociocultural factors associated with postpartum depression.

Method.  A phenomenological approach was used. Data were collected through in-depth interviews from January to June 2008. A purposive sample was recruited from a postnatal clinic at a regional hospital in mainland China. Fifteen first-time mothers who scored 13 or above on the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale at 6 weeks after childbirth were interviewed.

Findings.  Three themes were identified: feeling drained, perceiving oneself to be a failure and dissonance. Women felt physically and emotionally exhausted. They perceived themselves to be incompetent and imperfect mothers, and thus, failures. They experienced dissonance between tradition and modernity and between expectations and reality. The practice of ‘doing the month’, daughter-in-law/mother-in-law relationship, gender of the baby and one-child policy contributed to their depression.

Conclusion.  Cultural values need to be taken into account in order better to understand the causes, prevention, and diagnosis of postpartum depression, and care provision for women with this condition. Perinatal education could aim at improving a woman’s resilience by enhancing her problem-solving ability and cognitive restructuring skills. Further studies could be carried out in other parts of China or other Asian countries to determine the transferability of the findings.