Exploring the barriers to compassion for postpartum mothers and their experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic

Cackett, Harriet

Clinical psychology
June 2022

Thesis or dissertation

© 2022 Harriet Cackett. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the written permission of the copyright holder.

This portfolio thesis comprises of three parts:
Part One: Systematic Literature Review
The systematic literature review explored the psychological experiences of postpartum mothers during the COVID-19 pandemic. A systematic search of 5 electronic databases found twelve qualitative papers that met the inclusion criteria. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) Quality Appraisal Checklist for Qualitative Studies was used to evaluate the quality of the studies, whilst Thomas and Harden’s (2008) Thematic Synthesis was used to configure the findings across the studies. Four superordinate themes were identified: relationships, psychological strengths, mental health difficulties, and emotional responses. The findings revealed a range of positive and negative psychological experiences, with some postpartum mothers experiencing psychological growth, and others emotional distress. Clinical implications and key areas for future research are discussed.
Part Two: Empirical Paper
The empirical paper explored the fears, blocks and resistances (FBRs) to the flows of compassion in first-time mothers. Nine women attended an online semi-structured interview with the researcher that were analysed using Reflexive Thematic Analysis (Braun & Clark, 2019). The study found three themes, with subthemes, that encompassed the FBRs that mothers experienced: ‘Super Mum’: the Unobtainable Ideal, the Exchange of Distress and Compassion, and Going Through it Alone. The FBRs identified within each theme are summarised, and a theme map illustrates the relationships between themes and how this maintains FBRs for first-time mothers. Clinical implications of the research and areas for future research are discussed.
Part Three: Appendices
Appendices relevant to the systematic literature review and empirical paper, including a reflective statement, epistemological statement, and all relevant documentation.

Department of Psychological Health, Wellbeing and Social Work, The University of Hull
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