Adolescent mothers' experiences of feeling depressed after the birth of their babies

Date of Completion

January 2000


Health Sciences, Obstetrics and Gynecology|Women's Studies|Health Sciences, Nursing




The aim of this research was to describe the experiences of adolescent mothers with feeling depressed following the birth of their babies. The severity of outcomes associated with the different forms of depression in adult women postpartum, and the risks associated with adolescent motherhood prompted an exploration into the phenomenon of feeling depressed as adolescent mothers. The discrepancy in findings of studies which depicted depression in adolescent mothers as an adult disorder using medically and psychiatrically based diagnostic instruments, and the largely unknown nature of the phenomenon, provided validation for a phenomenological study. The purposive sample for this research included 20 English-speaking participants, between the ages of 16 and 18, who were recruited from vocational schools and adolescent parenting groups throughout Connecticut. The mothers were all attending school, with the majority living at home with their parents. After securing the adolescent mothers' and parents' consents, in-depth, unstructured interviews were carried out. The researcher asked the participants to describe their experience of feeling depressed postpartum. Colaizzi's descriptive, phenomenological method was used for data analysis. Each of the interviews was transcribed and reviewed for accuracy. Significant statements were extracted that pertained to the phenomenon, with formulated meanings written for each statement. The meanings were organized into six theme clusters: suddenly realizing motherhood; being pulled and torn between two realities; constantly questioning and trying to explain the unexplainable; everything falling down on you and around you; you're changing and re-grouping, seeing a different future. The metaphor of a Nor'Easter storm emerged from the participants' descriptions of their experiences and was threaded throughout the description of the themes. An exhaustive description of feeling depressed as an adolescent mother following the birth of her baby was reviewed by several of the participants with one change made. Implications for nursing practice included the importance of reaching out to adolescent mothers postpartum and over time to ensure that they remain connected to their peers and support systems. Research implications included the use of other qualitative and quantitative methods to further explore questions related to the impact of depression postpartum on adolescent mothers', fathers', and families' lives. ^