Anxiety after birth: an existential phenomenological enquiry into mothers’ lived experiences

DProf thesis


Oakeley, C. 2023. Anxiety after birth: an existential phenomenological enquiry into mothers’ lived experiences. DProf thesis Middlesex University / New School of Psychotherapy and Counselling (NSPC) Psychology
TypeDProf thesis
TitleAnxiety after birth: an existential phenomenological enquiry into mothers’ lived experiences
AuthorsOakeley, C.
Abstract

The concept of anxiety after birth has attracted increasing interest from perinatal researchers in recent years, however there are no studies which examine the phenomenon from an existential phenomenological standpoint. The aim of this study therefore was to explore women’s lived experiences of maternal anxiety from a new perspective. Eight mothers were interviewed to obtain detailed experiential accounts which were analysed using Van Manen’s hermeneutic phenomenological approach. Three emergent themes were identified: 1. Being taken over; 2. Being with uncertainty; 3. Being with others. These themes illustrate the ontological nature of maternal anxiety in it’s embodied, ambiguous and interpersonal dimensions. Existential insights into the relational, transitional, and temporal nature of postnatal anxiety are presented. The discussion recognises key implications for therapeutic practice, noting that therapy can play a vital role in assisting mothers to explore their maternal identity, choices, uncertainties and anxious feelings. The study reveals that in addition to the considerable distress that anxiety after birth can bring, it also serves a protective function when understood from an existential context. By listening to the testimonies of mothers we can offer alternatives to a medicalised view of anxiety and shine light on what it is through how it is experienced.

Output mediaqualitative
phenomenological
hermeneutic
anxiety
motherhood
maternal
postnatal
lived experience
existential
postpartum
embodied
relational
responsibility
Sustainable Development Goals3 Good health and well-being
Middlesex University ThemeHealth & Wellbeing
LanguageEnglish
Department namePsychology
Science and Technology
Institution nameMiddlesex University / New School of Psychotherapy and Counselling (NSPC)
Collaborating institutionNew School of Psychotherapy and Counselling (NSPC)
PublisherMiddlesex University Research Repository
Publication dates
Online25 Mar 2024
Publication process dates
Accepted10 Oct 2023
Deposited25 Mar 2024
Output statusPublished
Accepted author manuscript
File Access Level
Open
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https://repository.mdx.ac.uk/item/11499w

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Accepted author manuscript
COakeley thesis.pdf
File access level: Open

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