First-generation Nigerian mothers living in the UK and their experience of postnatal depression: an interpretative phenomenological analysis

Ling, Lydia Success, Eraso, Yolanda and Di Mascio, Verity (2023) First-generation Nigerian mothers living in the UK and their experience of postnatal depression: an interpretative phenomenological analysis. Ethnicity & Health, 28 (5). pp. 738-756. ISSN 1355-7858


Previous studies emphasise the negative psychological and physical consequences of Postnatal Depression (PND) on mothers and children’s health. In the UK, around 10-20% of women can be affected by perinatal mental health problems. Minority ethnic groups such as Black African mothers are considered to be at greater risk of developing PND and data estimates that immigrant mothers are twice more likely to develop PND than native mothers. The unique experiences and needs of this culturally diverse group remain little explored in the UK. To address this gap in the literature, this study aimed to explore the lived experiences of First-Generation Nigerian Mothers (FGNMs) who suffered PND, their coping behaviours and treatment experiences in the UK.

Six FGNMs with a previous diagnosis of PND and treatment experiences were purposefully recruited from GP practices and social groups attended by Nigerian mothers in the UK. Semi-structured interviews were analysed using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis.

Three master and seven subordinate themes were identified: (i) Socio-cultural factors (Inter-generational transmission; cultural perceptions: shame and stigma; transitions: adjusting to a new culture); (ii) What about me? The neglected nurturer (experiences of treatment; pretending to be OK); and (iii) Loneliness and coping (lack of support from partner; self-reliance).

The study provides evidence about the difficulties encountered by FGNMs in relation to PND, including socio-cultural factors, neglect from family and healthcare professionals, and self-reliance as a coping strategy. Contrary to reports suggesting that Black ethnic groups do not seek help for their mental health needs, participants’ accounts indicated that their attempts to engage with professionals were met with unsatisfactory responses. The findings of this study highlight the need to address barriers affecting access to services by fostering a patient-centred and culturally sensitive approach in healthcare teams to effectively engage mothers at an early stage in the detection pathway.

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