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Association of psychosocial-spiritual experiences around childbirth and subsequent perinatal mental health outcomes: an integrated review.

Crowther, Susan; Stephen, Audrey; Hall, Jenny


Susan Crowther

Audrey Stephen

Jenny Hall


Background: Perinatal mental health is a concern for women, families, communities and maternity care providers internationally. However, there is little understanding of poor perinatal maternal mental health and association with women’s experiences of childbirth. Further understanding of psychosocial–spiritual experiences in childbirth and subsequent perinatal mental health is required. Aim: Systematically identify and synthesise the range of evidence available on psychosocial–spiritual experiences around childbirth and foreground possible associations with subsequent perinatal mental health outcomes. Method: Integrated analysis of a range of literature types was undertaken. A comprehensive search strategy was created, and nine databases were searched from 2000 to 2018. Defined inclusion and exclusion criteria were applied independently by two reviewers. Critical appraisal was carried out independently by two reviewers and a third reviewer to resolve differences. The Ecology of Childbirth conceptual framework guided the review. Findings: Six articles were included and four synthesised themes were developed: relationships and kinship matter; significance of childbirth and spiritual experiences; honouring spiritual growth and well-being; and physical manifestations and embodiment. Discussion of the themes using the Ecology of Childbirth framework highlight new perspectives and reveal phenomena lying within and beyond childbirth experiences that may influence perinatal mental health. A new conceptual model is proposed. Conclusions: New insights highlight a paucity of research in the area of perinatal mental health and psychosocial–spiritual childbirth experiences. Further research needs to include postnatal mood disorders and the possible associations with psychosocial–spiritual experiences.


CROWTHER, S., STEPHEN, A. and HALL, J. 2020. Association of psychosocial–spiritual experiences around childbirth and subsequent perinatal mental health outcomes: an integrated review. Journal of reproductive and infant psychology [online], 38(1), pages 60-85. Available from:

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date May 3, 2019
Online Publication Date May 22, 2019
Publication Date Jan 31, 2020
Deposit Date May 31, 2019
Publicly Available Date May 23, 2020
Journal Journal of Reproductive and Infant Psychology
Print ISSN 0264-6838
Electronic ISSN 1469-672X
Publisher Taylor & Francis (Routledge)
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 38
Issue 1
Pages 60-85
Keywords Postnatal depression; Psychosocial factors; Emotional childbirth; Perceptions
Public URL


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