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Keywords:

  • postpartum psychosis;
  • puerperal psychosis;
  • social support;
  • support needs;
  • fathers

ABSTRACT

Objectives

To explore the perceived support needs and preferences of women with postpartum psychosis and their partners.

Design

A multisite, exploratory, qualitative descriptive design was used.

Setting and Participants

A purposive sample of nine mothers (Canada, n = 7, United States, n = 2) and eight fathers (Canada, n = 7, United States, n = 1) was obtained.

Methods

Data were collected through one-on-one, in-depth, semistructured interviews. Inductive thematic analysis was used to explore the qualitative transcripts.

Results

Couples who experienced postpartum psychosis looked to health professionals to provide reassurance and information on the illness, its management, and prognosis. The quality of support and interactions with staff varied, and participants reported difficulty identifying and obtaining professional support upon discharge. All participants felt that support groups for postpartum illnesses would help to normalize the experience and dissipate feelings of isolation. Participants reported that informal support networks provided practical help but were limited or hindered recovery and management due to lack of knowledge of the illness. Despite feeling overwhelmed and isolated, fathers were reluctant to identify their own support needs and struggled to ask for help from professionals and their informal support network.

Conclusion

These findings suggest that clinical interventions are needed to address the support needs and aid in the recovery of families affected by postpartum psychosis.