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20-03-2017 | Original Paper | Uitgave 6/2017

Journal of Child and Family Studies 6/2017

Maternal Guilt and Shame: Relationship to Postnatal Depression and Attitudes towards Help-Seeking

Tijdschrift:
Journal of Child and Family Studies > Uitgave 6/2017
Auteurs:
Emma Dunford, Charlotte Granger

Abstract

Existing literature indicates that women can experience feelings of shame and guilt in relation to motherhood. This study investigated whether maternal feelings of shame and guilt were associated with postnatal depressive symptoms and attitudes towards help-seeking. A cross-sectional, correlational design was employed. Shame and guilt were measured as both dispositional factors and contextual factors i.e. in relation to motherhood (event-related shame and guilt). A UK community sample of 183 mothers with an infant between 4 weeks and 1 year of age completed a series of online questionnaires. The results indicated that shame proneness significantly predicted postnatal depressive symptoms once demographics and social support had been accounted for. Furthermore, shame proneness significantly predicted less positive attitudes towards help-seeking. Guilt proneness was not a significant predictor of postnatal depressive symptoms or attitudes towards help-seeking. These findings highlight the potential negative consequences of maternal feelings of shame in the postnatal period.

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