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Durham e-Theses
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An Anthropological Investigation into the Complex Nexus of Maternal Sleep and Postpartum Depression

TUGWELL, FRANCESCA,ELIZABETH (2021) An Anthropological Investigation into the Complex Nexus of Maternal Sleep and Postpartum Depression. Masters thesis, Durham University.

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It is widespread knowledge that new mothers experience sleep disruption in the postpartum period, and that they are also more vulnerable to mood disorders, like postpartum depression, during this time. However, what is less commonly acknowledged is the relationship between the two. The objective of this research was to determine how objective and subjective sleep varied between mothers and non-mothers, and how their relationship with the expression of mood disorders differed between age-matched individuals in a postpartum and non-postpartum sample. It also aimed to identify the effects of postpartum depression on the maternal-infant relationship. Data was collected using actigraphs, sleep diaries, and the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale every month from 2-6 months of age, and through videosomnography which was carried out in the Parent-Infant Sleep Lab at 2, 4 and 6 months of age. Findings suggested that maternal sleep fragmentation was the most significantly affected parameter, but that though mothers’ sleep was detrimentally influenced during the postpartum period, it was less frequently linked with depression than poor sleep in the non-postpartum sample. It was deduced that the relationship between the two may have been mediated by breastfeeding in the postpartum sample. Though not statistically significant, a relationship was identified between depression and negative maternal-infant interactions. This can have negative consequences for infant development, both socially, cognitively, and emotionally (Hatton et al, 2004; Murray and Cooper, 1997). As 160,000 new mothers experience PPD each year in the UK (Ball, 2020), it is imperative that the primary causal factor is determined to enable preventative measures to be put in place for the improvement of both maternal and infant health.

Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Award:Master of Science
Keywords:"sleep" "maternal-infant health" "anthropology of sleep" "maternal sleep" "actigraphy" "sleep diaries""postpartum depression" "mood disorders" "edinburgh postnatal depression scale" "breastfeeding" "formula-feeding" "infant-feeding"
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Social Sciences and Health > Anthropology, Department of
Thesis Date:2021
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:14 Jun 2021 09:54

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