Recently retired CEL colleague Dr Jenny Hall has coauthored with Drs Susan Crowther and Audrey Stephen (Robert Gordon University) a newly published article that reviews recent work on the experience and causality of poor perinatal mental health. The article highlights gaps in the existing literature and, using the ecology of childbirth framework, presents a new conceptual model for thinking about psychosocial–spiritual experiences in childbirth and subsequent perinatal mental health. The article is freely available to read at https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/02646838.2019.1616680
Citation: Susan Crowther, Audrey Stephen & Jenny Hall (2019) Association of psychosocial–spiritual experiences around childbirth and subsequent perinatal mental health outcomes: an integrated review, Journal of Reproductive and Infant Psychology, DOI: 10.1080/02646838.2019.1616680
Background: Perinatal mental health is a concern for women, families, communities and maternity care providers internationally. However, there is little understanding of poor perinatal maternal mental health and association with women’s experiences of childbirth. Further understanding of psychosocial–spiritual experiences in childbirth and subsequent perinatal mental health is required.
Aim: Systematically identify and synthesise the range of evidence available on psychosocial–spiritual experiences around childbirth and foreground possible associations with subsequent perinatal mental health outcomes.
Method: Integrated analysis of a range of literature types was undertaken. A comprehensive search strategy was created, and nine databases were searched from 2000 to 2018. Defined inclusion and exclusion criteria were applied independently by two reviewers. Critical appraisal was carried out independently by two reviewers and a third reviewer to resolve differences. The Ecology of Childbirth conceptual framework guided the review.
Findings: Six articles were included and four synthesised themes were developed: relationships and kinship matter; significance of childbirth and spiritual experiences; honouring spiritual growth and well-being; and physical manifestations and embodiment. Discussion of the themes using the Ecology of Childbirth framework highlight new perspectives and reveal phenomena lying within and beyond childbirth experiences that may influence perinatal mental health. A new conceptual model is proposed.
Conclusions: New insights highlight a paucity of research in the area of perinatal mental health and psychosocial–spiritual childbirth experiences. Further research needs to include postnatal mood disorders and the possible associations with psychosocial–spiritual experiences.