Post-partum depression refers to a mental disorder that presents itself to new mothers about four weeks after delivery. The psychological disorder is marked by feeling of ennui a dark, morbid sense of humor and lack of a motivation to perform tasks they would otherwise be engaging in. although the condition is not permanent, is has certain harmful effects on the infant. Some of these effects include inducing negative affect in the infant, reduced vibrancy in the infant and poor feeding habits in the infant. The paper aims at uncovering the determinants of post-partum depression, its prevalence and if it affects feeding practices of infants.
It is a common finding in many studies on the topic that breastfeeding rates among new mothers with depression are very low (Chung, 2005). However, most studies have lacked a connecting link between post-partum depression and breastfeeding. Some have sited that the lack of a direct correlation could be attributed to the fact that anti-depression medications could be cancelling the effects of post-partum depression on new mothers (Hung & Chung, 2001). Moreover, more studies support the position that mothers suffering these psychological conditions should not cease from breastfeeding their young. This could also have an effect of reducing observable cases of reduced breastfeeding activity following this condition (Groer & Wilkinson, 2002). Counter-intuitively, some studies have shown that the release of the breastfeeding hormones; oxytocin and prolactin has anti-depressant effects on young mothers, thereby concluding that mothers may involuntarily breastfeed to reduce their stress levels (Altemus, Deuster, Galliven, Carter, & Gold, 1995). However, it has also been suggested in other studies that post-partum depression is directly linked to premature breastfeeding cessation. An example of such a study found that more depressed women with the conditioned bottle-fed their young only three months post-natal as compared to women with healthier minds.
Since the study will be based upon a quantitative approach, the variables to be measured will be dependent in nature. This is because the purpose of the research is not to find out the causes for breastfeeding or lack of, during post-partum depression, but to collect data that will be useful in determining whether post-partum depression really does affect breastfeeding. Moreover, no subjective input will emanate from the collection of data. The sample population will be expected to provide answers to questionnaires, which will then be taken as they are, without the researcher’s subjective input on their value. The data collected will then be analyzed to find out if they are in favor or against the question of whether breastfeeding is affected by post-partum depression. Moreover, the same data collected will answer the question of prevalence on its own.
The target population of the study will be the women in Orange County, California. The sampling frame will include women varying in age groups, history of parturition, history with depression, underlying hormonal imbalances, marital status, education level and the level of economic empowerment. The sample design will adopt a non-probabilistic sampling approach. This is due to the variation in the select quota of the population that requires selective sampling. The strategy will includes techniques such as purposive sampling and self-selection sampling so as to make sure that all the demographic variations in the sample population are well balanced. The main determinants of these variations are hormonal levels and attitudes and fears the women may have over breastfeeding and child nurturing. Thereby equal representations of the women will be made in the select sample so as to cater for such representations. This will require an equal number for every frame bring about variation in the sample.
The data collected in the survey will be organized to as to screen for three solutions to questions. The first question is the prevalence of post-partum depression in the county. The second question will seek to answer if there are determinants to the disease while the third question will be whether a relationship between post-partum depression and breastfeeding can be derived from the data. The data collected is expected to present information on the frequency of breastfeeding in the entire sample frame. Symptoms of post-partum depression will be screen by the questionnaire. Filtering for a correlation between the two will then ensue so as to establish any emergent trend. However, this will be conducted in reference to known hormonal cycles of the entire sample frame.
The questionnaire recommended for the collection of survey data will be open-ended and self-administered so as to provide the respondents with more time to reflect on their responses and save costs of travelling in the process. It will contain these questions:
- What is your age?
- How old is your child?
- How many times do you breastfeed your child in a day?
- Have you been experiencing severe mood swings since you delivered the baby?
- Do you find it hard to bond with your baby
- Do you find motherhood rewarding?
- Have you been having difficulty finding sleep since childbirth?
- Have you lost your appetite for food since childbirth?
- Have you been experiencing fatigue since childbirth?
- Are you married or in a supportive relationship?
- Do you feel confident in your ability to support your child?
- Are you on anti-depressant medication?