Maternal identity negotiations among low-income women with symptoms of postpartum depression

Qual Health Res. 2011 Mar;21(3):373-85. doi: 10.1177/1049732310385123. Epub 2010 Oct 8.


In this study, we used a constructivist grounded theory approach to explore maternal identity negotiations among low-income ethnic minority mothers with postpartum depression (PPD) symptoms. Nineteen mothers were recruited from Women, Infant, and Children clinics located in two coastal cities in the United States to participate in in-depth interviews. Constant comparative analysis revealed that mothers experienced their PPD symptoms and poverty as evidence of maternal failure, but also drew on discourses of maternal self-sacrifice, engagement with their children, and pleasure in mothering to construct a positive sense of self. To negotiate these conflicting versions of self, mothers positively appraised their own mothering in relation to stigmatized "others" and framed their depression as a foreign entity, one that stood outside of a core, authentic sense of self. Through our consideration of the intersecting contexts of poverty and postpartum depressive symptoms, this article adds to the literature on PPD and mothering.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Depression, Postpartum / diagnosis
  • Depression, Postpartum / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interview, Psychological
  • Maternal Welfare*
  • Minority Groups / psychology*
  • Mother-Child Relations
  • Mothers / psychology*
  • Poverty*
  • Pregnancy
  • Prejudice
  • Qualitative Research
  • Self Concept
  • Social Class
  • Social Identification*