The Challenges of Idealized Mothering: Marginalized Mothers Living With Postpartum


By bhadmin February 2, 2021

Being a good mother is the highest calling for many women. However, the demands of being a “good mother” can be stressful, especially during pregnancy and the first 2 years postpartum. For many low-income mothers from marginalized groups facing multiple responsibilities with limited resources, the stress of new mothering can lead to postpartum depression (PPD). Although PPD affects roughly 12% of all white mothers, at least 3 times as many mothers of color (38%) have been found to experience PPD. In this study, 30 low-income mothers of color with histories of PPD were interviewed about how they viewed being a good mother while living with PPD. Their views of “good mother” emerged during the interviews, which uncovered four major themes: being strong mothers, juggling responsibilities, being self-sustaining, and taking care of self. Using these themes and drawing on research on mothering informed by feminist perspectives, this article examines how the mothers strive to be good mothers while coping with PPD. Social workers working with new mothers of color who have PPD can benefit from understanding these mothers’ experiences with PPD while striving to achieve well-being for themselves and for their children.

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