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P119 Lived experiences of Ugandan women who had recovered from a clinical diagnosis of postpartum depression: a phenomenological study
  1. Catherine Atuhaire1,
  2. Godfrey Rukundo1,
  3. Laura Brennaman2,
  4. Samuel Cumber3,
  5. Grace Nambozi1
  1. 1Mbarara University of Science and Technology, Mbarara, Uganda
  2. 2Lee Health System Fort Myers, Florida, USA
  3. 3The Sahlgrenska Academy at University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg, Sweden


Background Postpartum depression affects a significant proportion of women of childbearing age. The birth of a newborn baby is normally considered a joyful event, inhibiting mothers from expressing their depressive feelings. If the condition is not well understood and managed, mothers with postpartum depression are likely to experience suicidal ideation or even commit suicide. This study explored lived experiences of women who had recovered from a clinical diagnosis of postpartum depression in southwestern Uganda.

Methods This phenomenological study adopted the explorative approach through in-depth interviews as guided by the biopsychosocial model of depression. It was conducted in Mbarara Regional Referral Hospital, Bwizibwera Health Centre IV and Kinoni Health Centre IV located in Mbarara and Rwampara districts, southwestern Uganda. Data were collected from 30 postpartum mothers who were purposively selected, between 9th December 2019 and 25th September 2020. We analyzed this work using thematic data analysis and this was steered by the Colaizzi’s six-step phenomenological approach of inquiry.

Results The findings were summarized into five major themes: 1) somatic experiences including insomnia and headache, breast pain, poor breast milk production, weight loss and lack of energy; 2) difficulties in home and family life including overwhelming domestic chores, lack of social support from other family members, fighting at home and financial constraints due to COVID-19 pandemic; 3) negative emotions including anger, self-blame, despondency and feelings of loneliness and regrets of conceiving or marriage; 4) feelings of suicide, homicide and self-harm including suicidal ideation and attempt, homicidal ideations and attempt and feelings of self-harm and 5) coping with postpartum depression including spirituality, termination of or attempt to leave their marital relationships, acceptance, counselling and seeking medical treatment, perseverance.

Conclusion Suicidal and homicidal thoughts are important parts of the postpartum depression experience, and these may put the lives of the mothers, their spouses and their babies at a great risk. Poor relationship quality, intimate partner violence and lack of financial resources contribute significantly to the negative emotional experiences of mothers with PPD.

  • Postpartum depression
  • lived experiences
  • Uganda
  • qualitative research

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