Maternal and Child Health Journal

, Volume 16, Issue 2, pp 322–327 | Cite as

The Experience of Maternal and Child Health Nurses Responding to Women with Postpartum Depression

  • Penelope Rush


Previous studies have shown that maternal and child health nurses (MCH nurses) are in a unique position to help mothers with postpartum depression (PPD), but little has been done to understand the MCH nurses’ day-to-day experience. This Australian study addresses that issue by analyzing the results of eight in-depth interviews with MCH nurses. The data obtained from these interviews was analyzed using the phenomenological method described by Creswell, adapted from Moustakas [1]. From this analysis five themes emerge: how MCH nurses recognize symptoms of PPD; the importance of having treatment options available; the role of rapport; the limits of MCH nurses in responding to PPD; and how MCH nurses respond when recognizing new cases of PPD. The results of the study reveal several areas for policy review, most significantly the need for more MCH nurse training to recognize the symptoms of PPD and identify the appropriate treatment option. In addition, a review of staff retention and mobility policies is recommended to improve rapport with mothers and maintain and grow knowledge of local treatment options.


Postpartum depression Maternal and child health nurses Public health nurses Phenomenology Mental Illness Maternal health 



My appreciation and thanks go to: Dr Lauren Rosewarne; the eight MCH nurses who participated in the study; the MCH coordinators at the four local councils; the Victorian Government Department of Education and Early Childhood Development; Nicola Quinn, Mental Health Branch, Victorian Department of Human Services; Michael Rush; Betty Christofilakis; Trish Elliott and the three anonymous reviewers for their valuable comments.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Masters of Public Policy and Management, University of MelbourneHawthorn EastAustralia

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