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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Women with postpartum depression: "my husband" stories

Phyllis Montgomery1*, Pat Bailey1, Sheri Johnson Purdon2, Susan J Snelling3 and Carol Kauppi4

Author Affiliations

1 School of Nursing, Laurentian University, Ramsey Lake Road, Sudbury, Ontario, Canada

2 Canadian Mental Health Association, Sudbury Branch, 111 Elm Street, Sudbury, Ontario, Canada

3 Sudbury & District Health Unit, 1300 Paris Street, Sudbury Ontario, Canada

4 School of Social Work, Laurentian University, Ramsey Lake Road, Sudbury, Ontario, Canada

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BMC Nursing 2009, 8:8  doi:10.1186/1472-6955-8-8

Published: 5 September 2009



The research on Postpartum Depression (PPD) to date suggests that there is a knowledge gap regarding women's perception of their partners' role as carer and care activities they perform. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to describe women's understanding of their partners' or husbands' involvement in the midst of PPD.


This study used interview data from a larger study of northern and rural Ontario women's stories of help-seeking for PPD. The interpretive description approach was used to illustrate the complexity of women's spousal connections in PPD. Data from a purposive community sample of 27 women who self-identified as having been diagnosed with PPD was used. From the verbatim transcribed interviews a number of data excerpts were identified and labeled as "my husband" stories. Narrative analysis was employed to examine these stories.


During this time of vulnerability, the husbands' physical, emotional and cognitive availability positively contributed to the women's functioning and self-appraisals as wife and mother. Their representations of their husbands' 'doing for' and/or 'being with' promoted their well-being and ultimately protected the family.


Given that husbands are perceived to be central in mitigating women's suffering with PPD, the consistent implementation of a triad orientation, that includes woman, child and partner rather than a more traditional and convenient dyadic orientation, is warranted in comprehensive postpartum care. Finally, this study contributes a theoretical understanding of responsive as well as reactive connections between women and family members during the postpartum period.